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


Pintupi people

Australia 1926 – 1998

Moon Dreaming 1978 Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on composition board

Dimensions: 60.9 h x 44.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1993
Accession No: NGA 93.181
Image rights: © the estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd
  • Rising sun chasing the night away and Moon Dreaming form part of a series of paintings about the artist’s Moon Dreaming, which he produced for the 1978 film, Mick and the moon. Namarari was one of the key early members of the painting movement that commenced in the early 1970s at Papunya. He went on to paint impressive larger works on canvas in the ensuing decades and is represented in numerous Australian and international collections.

    Rising sun chasing the night away reflects the night’s phases and the sunrise over the landscape. The usual depiction of the landscape in desert paintings is topographical, as though the viewer were looking down from above onto the land. Here, Namarari takes this way of representation to extraordinary lengths, demonstrating the Pintupi sense of perspective, where the point of view incorporates a larger cosmology: looking down from the heavens through the stars, past the rising sun and the night onto the campfires burning on the plain below. As the night fades from the left of the picture, the sun on the right casts the dawn light over the landscape. The white dots are painted stones, the central roundel represents a ceremonial ground.

    Moon Dreaming is again a visually rich topographical representation of the Dreaming and associated landscape. The large circular moon, in varied grades of orange, takes prominent position on the board. It exerts it presence on the surrounding landscape bathing it in a lighter orange hue. The dark shapes are representations of stone axes and ceremonial objects.

    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