Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art
Early Western Desert Paintings 1971-1974 gallery See nearby items (accurate to +/- 12 hrs)


Pintupi/Luritja peoples

Australia 1918 /1922 – 2001

Old man's fighting Dreaming [Old man's fighting Dreaming, part 2] 1971 Description: No.13 part 2
Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on composition board

Dimensions: 41.5 h x 55.5 w x 4.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1993
Accession No: NGA 93.172
Image rights: © the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd
  • Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula was born in Minjirrpirri, south of Lake Mackay and spent most of his early life growing up in the Western Desert. By the 1940s, extreme drought forced his family to move to the Lutheran mission at Hermannsburg. Tjupurrula worked as a labourer at Haasts Bluff, Yuendumu, Mount Liebig and Mount Wedge. By the 1960s, most Aboriginal families residing in Haasts Bluff were moved to Papunya, where he gained employment at the Papunya School.

    Tjupurrula was one of the initial group of Aboriginal men who painted their Dreamings for Geoffrey Bardon at Papunya in 1971. He was a prolific artist and his work was included in several of the first consignments that left Papunya in 1971 for sale at the Stuart Art Centre in Alice Springs. As a senior cultural leader, Tjupurrula painted his Dreamings with confidence and with distinct characteristics. His extensive use of white dotting overlay became his signature. The artist would often cover the entire board in a wash of white dotting, making the painting appear to float off its support. His dotting technique would often be compared to smoke rising up into the sky and or to the heat haze from the afternoon sun.

    Old Man’s Fighting Dreaming depicts the site near Tjikari where two Old Wallaby Men are in a cave. They are attacked by a number of other Old Men who chase and catch them, then kill them and bury them in a hole. The attackers are depicted standing over the hole in the ground.

    Franchesca Cubillo

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010