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Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art

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Warlimpirringa Tjapaltjarri born circa 1959
UNTITLED
Bears artist’s name and Papunya Tula catalogue number on the reverse
Acrylic on Belgian linen
183cm by 244cm
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Provenance

Painted in Kiwirrkura in March, 2007

Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, catalogue number WT0704010

The Luczo Family Collection, USA

Catalogue Note

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri has travelled one of the most astonishing personal trajectories of any living artist, yet any turbulence that he has encountered is entirely encrypted within the seamless shimmering surfaces that he creates. Raised with no communication with the wider world, Warlimpirrnga and his family of nine individuals remained for two decades in total isolation at Marawa near Lake Mackay on the Northern Territory/Western Australian border. The silence was broken in 1984, when the family group moved south, after recognising the smoke of hunting fires lit by their relatives who had returned to their country after decades of exile in Papunya. The ‘New People’ were warmly embraced by waltja (extended family) at Kiwirrkura, Australia’s most remote community, where their resilience and recent experience of traditional life was celebrated.1 By 1989, Warlimpirrnga had mastered the portable artform instigated by senior Pintupi relatives at Papunya in 1971. He has subsequently built a stellar career, with representation at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and a solo exhibition at Salon 94 Bowery in New York in 2015.

New York Times critic Roberta Smith regarded Warlimpirrnga’s canvases as the best Desert art she has encountered, noting that ‘Mr. Tjapaltjarri’s lines accumulate into continuous surfaces that, however simply made, are never still or flat. They are intensely optical, but not Op: their handmade vitality avoids that style’s soulless surfaces and designs.’2

Luke Scholes, who has worked closely with Warlimpirrnga, takes us deeper into the phenomenological source of his disciplined practice. Scholes deduces that the artist’s ‘renderings that shimmer and gleam with the potency of objects from which they are drawn: pearl shells and kurditiji (shields), the former known to be the prized possessions of traditional healers, of which Warlimpirrnga is one.’3 Indeed, the closely aligned strata of Warlimpirrnga’s surfaces shift ceaselessly, just as light diffuses from the nacre of pearl.

Paradoxically, the dynamic effect shrouds the artist’s inner stillness, whose attention, when painting, is fixed on the next dot. Falcon-like, Warlimpirrnga’s gaze is unswerving despite the refractive kinesis of the vast dizzying field that envelops his peripheral vision.

JK


1 Fred R. Myers and Luke Scholes, 'Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri: Powerful presence in person and in paint', in No boundaries: Aboriginal Australian contemporary abstract painting from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, Munich, DelMonico Books, Prestel, 2014, p 132-35.
2 Roberta Smith, ‘Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri’s Aboriginal Dreamtime Paintings’, The New York Times, 15, 10, 2015.
3 Fred R. Myers and Luke Scholes, 'Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri: Powerful presence in person and in paint', in No boundaries: Aboriginal Australian contemporary abstract painting from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, Munich, DelMonico Books, Prestel, 2014, p 136.

Aboriginal Art

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London