Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art


Warlimpirringa Tjapaltjarri born circa 1959
Bears artist’s name and Papunya Tula Arts catalogue no. WT0901042 on the reverse
Synthetic polymer paint on linen
183 by 244 cm
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Painted at Kiwirrkurra,Western Australia in 2009 for Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The Dennis and Debra Scholl Collection, Miami


Kassel, Germany, dOCUMENTA 13, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 9 June - 16 September 2012
Nevada, Nevada Museum of Art, No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting, 13 February to 13 May 2015, and additional venues:
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Portland, 20 June to 16 August 2015
Pérez Art Museum, Miami, 17 September 2015 to 3 January 2016
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, 18 January to 15 May 2016
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, New York, 9 June to 14 August 2016


Henry F. Skerritt, ed. et al, No Boundaries: Australian Aboriginal Contemporary Abstract Painting, Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York, 2014, front cover (illus. detail), p.136, pp.140-141 (illus.)

Catalogue Note

The monumental Mamultjunkunya draws the viewer into an ethereal desert landscape that ebbs and flows with the rhythm of winds sculpting the ridges on sand hills, of glowering mirages on distant horizons, the searing heat of the sun reflecting off the crystalline surface of the salt lake. In the painting, as in the landscape, there is no fixed focal point, rather the viewer’s peripheral vision takes the eye on an elusive journey across the canvas.

While the designs in Warlimpirrnga’s pictures relate directly to those incised into ceremonial pearl shells that form an essential part of the maparntjarra’s equipment, his paintings go beyond the non-objective to the very essence of the landscape. They refute the ‘prism of ethnography [that] continues to distort a perception of indigenous art’ rather than recognize indigenous art’s ‘significant contribution to the contemporary art scene’.1

The setting for this image is a salt pan in the artist’s country that was his home for nearly three decades, in and around the vast salt lake of Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) that straddles the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It is a landscape that embodies a dichotomy, that of physical harshness tempered by a sacred elan. Its rendition in Mamultjunkunya is what Luke Scholes terms both a ‘muscular’ image and a ‘gentle’ one, ‘a more organic image [that] … evoke(s) the watermarks of a receding claypan.2


1 Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the curator of dOCUMENTA 13, interviewed by Fiona Gruber, The Australian newspaper, June 9, 2012

2 Luke Scholes, ‘Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri: Powerful presence in person and in paint,’ in Henry F. Skerritt, ed. et al, No Boundaries: Australian Aboriginal Contemporary Abstract Painting, Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York, 2014, p. 136

This painting is sold with an accompanying Papunya Tula certificate


Aboriginal Art