This painting is accompanied by a Stuart Art Centre field note, with a drawing describing the work and numbered 19135.
Tjakamarra's early paintings on board feature fields of loose, energetically applied dots as seen in Untitled, 1972, which create a luminous, dappled effect. These gave way to a more meticulous regularity of dot application in his later canvas compositions based on matrices formed by series of roundels that possess a rhythmical, musical quality evocative of chanting of ancestral songs in ceremony. Both approaches carry a sense of intensity, or the gravitas of ‘being in the moment.’
In this painting Tjakamarra depicts a man’s ritual body decoration where the central set of concentric circles represents the man, and the alternating bands of red ochre and white dots or feather down represent the body design. These are bordered by diagonal lines of repeated chevrons representing feather down that is applied to the body. The overall composition suggests a type of split-representation as though we are looking simultaneously at the front and back of the figure wearing the ceremonial decoration.
The painting had not been seen in public from the time it was acquired by the collector from the Stuart Art Centre in Alice Springs in 1972 until it was shown in the landmark exhibition, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in 2011, and at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, in 2012-13. Unlikely to be repeated, the exhibition surveyed the early works of the major artists who belonged to the initial group of painters at Papunya in 1971.
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