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Papunya Tula

An exhibition of rare works by Papunya Tula artists

Timmy Payungka Tjapangati Bush Tucker Dreaming 1971 watercolour on paper; Naata Nungurrayi (Australia, b.circa 1932) Unkunya 2009 etching on Hahnemühle rag paper; Artist unknown, Untitled 1971, pencil on paper. Works purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors’ Program

A new exhibition highlighting some rare works of the Papunya Tula Artists opens at the Art Gallery of NSW on 13 December 2012.

‘These artists have revolutionised Australian art and are renowned for their paintings on board and canvas. They have also produced a small number of works on paper which will also be part of this exhibition, from the very earliest works produced in 1971 through to the landmark print portfolio Tjukurrpa Palurukutu, Kutjupawana Palyantjanya: same stories, new way of 2009,’ said curator Cara Pinchbeck.

The 11 works in pencil and watercolour on paper, made by a small group of Pintupi artists – including Timmy Payungka Tjapangati and Anatjari Tjakamarra in August and September 1971 – are part of the Gallery’s permanent collection. Dominated by spiralling circles, lines of travel and meandering watercourses, these works are their first tentative expressions of country, at a time of great personal turmoil.

By the 1970s the majority of Pintupi people had been brought into the government settlement of Papunya, NT under the government policy for the centralisation and assimilation of desert peoples. In the confines of this overcrowded and tumultuous environment, the Pintupi felt an immense longing for home and were able to share stories of their distant country in the Western Desert through these works. The school teacher Geoffrey Bardon assisted the men in this process, providing materials and space under his carport, where they could work.

This creative outpouring led to the Pintupi men – and a number of other Anmatyerre, Arrernte, Warlpiri and Luritja men, some of whom had worked on the legendary school mural from late July 1971 – to begin painting on boards and any other salvaged materials to create the jewel-like works that have transformed Aboriginal and Australian art.

In 1972 the company formed by the men was incorporated as Papunya Tula Artists, which has become the country’s pre-eminent Aboriginal art organisation. Over its forty-year history the company has developed in response to the needs of the artists – who have gradually returned to their homelands in the Western Desert with the establishment of Walungurru (Kintore) in 1981, followed by Kiwirrkura in 1983 – and now supports around 160 artists.

Tjukurrpa Palurukutu, Kutjupawana Palyantjanya: same stories, a new way 2009 is the very first suite of limited edition prints by Papunya Tula Artists. A small number of the company’s artists have created prints in the past, but these have been through external organisations, rather than Papunya Tula Artists. This suite of 40 etchings includes works by the most senior artists working for the company, including Naata Nungurrayi and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, alongside emerging artists, many of whom are children of the company’s founding artists.

Proudly sponsored by
Qantas Airways Limited

On view
13 Dec 2012 – 24 Mar 2013
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


Media contact

Susanne Briggs
Tel 02 9225 1791
Mob 0412 268 320