54
54
Uta Uta Tjungala circa 1920-1990
UNTITLED, OLD MAN’S STORY
Estimate
35,00050,000
JUMP TO LOT
54
Uta Uta Tjungala circa 1920-1990
UNTITLED, OLD MAN’S STORY
Estimate
35,00050,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art

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London

Uta Uta Tjungala circa 1920-1990
UNTITLED, OLD MAN’S STORY
Bears Stuart Art Centre catalogue number 19353 on reverse
Synthetic polymer paint on composition board
60cm by 40cm
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Provenance

Painted in the Papunya region in mid 1972
Stuart Art Centre, Alice Springs
Private collection, France, acquired from the above in 1972

This painting is accompanied by a Stuart Art Centre field note, with a drawing describing the work and numbered 19353.

Catalogue Note

Untitled, Old Man’s Story is a recurring theme in the art of Uta Uta Tjangala. It refers to one of the great ancestors of the Pintupi people at Yumari in the artist’s mother’s country. Yumari possessed particular personal significance to Tjangala as it is connected to his conception site of Ngurrapalangu from where the revered ancestor Yina the Old Man travelled. Uta Uta lived at Yumari for a period and his father is buried in the area. As a place he regarded as home in the sense of the Aboriginal connection to country, Yumari is integral to Tjangala’s personal identity 1. Yina is described as a sorcerer, possessing supernatural powers, whose testicles and penis repeatedly separated from his body and transformed into features of the landscape. In the ancestral past, Yina had illicit sexual relations with his mother-in-law at Yumari – ‘Yumari’ literally means ‘mother-in-law place’. The bold graphic qualities of Untitled, Old Man’s Story resonate with a sense of authority that the artist brings to this symbolic depiction of narrative and landscape. It shows the Old Man as the central circle in the painting, roundels indicate testes and the white verticals pubic tassels, while the upper arcs indicate the place he lay to rest.


In 1971, Uta Uta Tjangala was one of the original group of artists that initiated the revolution in Australian Aboriginal desert painting at the community of Papunya, some 200 miles west of Alice Springs. He was a member of the Pintupi group, the last to be brought in to the government run settlement under a policy of assimilation of Aboriginal people into Australian society. Pintupi lands lie hundreds of miles west of Papunya and they were considered to be the most esoteric of the western desert peoples. Uta Uta was a man of high ritual status and deep ancestral knowledge that provided the basis for his influence on other Pintupi painters. He created some of the great masterpieces of the modern Western Desert painting movement, including the monumental canvas Old Man’s Dreaming, 1983, now in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, that was shown in the exhibition Australia at the Royal Academy in 2013 2.


For related paintings made during the early 1970s see Medicine Story, 1971, in the John and Barbara Wilkerson Collection in Benjamin, R and A.C. Weislogel 2009, pp.88-9, catalogue number 83; and Old Man (Yina) Dreaming, 1972, in Bardon and Bardon 2004, p.305, painting 247 4 and in Ryan and Batty 2011, p.1385.

WC

1. Myers, F.R., Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002, pp.112-3. For a discussion of Uta Uta (Wuta Wuta) Tjangala’s Yumari paintings, see also f. Myers, ‘Aesthetic function and practice: A local art history of Pintupi paintings’ in Morphy, H. and M. Smith Boles (eds.), Art from the Land: Dialogues with the Kluge-Ruhe collection of Australian Aboriginal art, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1999,
pp.245-59.
2. See Gray, A, R. Radford, K. Soriano et al Australia, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2013, pp.66-7, plate 20.
3. Benjamin, R and A.C. Weislogel (eds.), Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya, New York: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2009.
4. Bardon, G. and J. Bardon, Papunya, A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of the Western Desert Painting Movement, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2004.
5. Ryan, J. and P. Batty, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert art, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2011.

Aboriginal Art

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London