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
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