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Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art

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Tjumpo Tjapanangka circa 1929-2007
WATI  KUTJARRA AT THE WATER SITE OF MAMARA

Provenance

Painted at Wirramanu (Balgo Hills) Western Australia in 2000
Walayirti Artists, Balgo Hills, Western Australia
Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above in 2001
The Dennis and Debra Scholl Collection, Miami

Exhibited

Bulleen, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Mythology & Reality, Contemporary Aboriginal Desert Art From the Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, 2 October 2004 - 30 January 2005
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

Literature

Geoffrey Bardon, Judith Ryan, Gabrielle Pizzi, Zara Stanhope, Contemporary Aboriginal Desert Art From the Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, Mythology & Reality, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p.61 (illus.)
Henry F. Skerritt, ed. et al, No Boundaries: Australian Aboriginal Contemporary Abstract Painting, Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York, 2014, p.149, pp.154-155 (illus.), p.172 (illus. detail)

Catalogue Note

Wati Kutjarra at the Water Site of Mamara, 2000, is a monumental work emanating from of the profound experience, fresh in the artist’s mind, of the return to his traditional lands, the land where he was ‘gown up’, Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay). It relates to the creation of Wilkinkarra by the Wati Kutjarra, two brothers who lit a fire that scorched across the landscape clearing the way for this salt water lake. The controlled use of fire is a fundamental instrument in the process of land management, or fire-stick farming, to this day: the Kukatja, Pintupi and other desert groups (and indeed Aboriginal peoples right across the continent) have developed seasonal regimes of burning the land to promote the regeneration of a wide range of plants, to prevent large uncontrollable bushfires and as a hunting strategy.

In Wati Kutjarra at the Water Site of Mamara, the alternating bands of white, yellow and red body painting designs stretch over a vast canvas, transforming it into a landscape alight with the power of the element of fire and radiating ancestral energy. As Una Rey describes it, the painting ‘perform[s] a conceptual ruse, hovering between optical “lightness” and austere gravity… [it] can inspire rapture through beauty but can also instill awe for the latent power as [an] object invested with the maparn’s essence.’1

For related major works by Tjumpo Tjapanagka see Wati Kutjarra (Two Brothers Dreaming), 2004, in the Kaplan & Levi Collection,2 and two paintings on a similar monumental scale executed in collaboration with Sam Willikati Tjampitjin (c.1930-2003) who accompanied Tjumpo on the inspirational journey back to Wilkinkarra in 2000; Wati Kutjarra, 1999, in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia,3 and Wilkinkarra, 2001, in the Warlayirti Artists Keeping Place Collection.4

WC

1 Una Rey, ‘Tjumpo Tjapanangka: Hunting for Balgo’s Contemporary Warrior’ in Henry F. Skerritt, ed. et al, No Boundaries: Australian Aboriginal Contemporary Abstract Painting, Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York, 2014, p.149. Tjumpo Tjapanangka was a maparn or traditional healer.

2 McCluskey, P. et al., Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art: Kaplan & Levi Collection, Seattle and New Haven: Seattle Art Museum and Yale University Press, 2012, plate 39, p.131

3 Cumpston, N, with B. Patton, Desert Country, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2010, p.109

4 Healy, J., (ed.), Warlayirti: The art of Balgo, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, 2014, p.138

 

Aboriginal Art

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London