Artist | RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Artist | RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA


Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Muyinga. [RT0804108] (Acrylic on Canvas)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Muyinga

Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Tarkul. [RT960374] (Acrylic on Belgian Linen)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Tarkul

Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Water Dreaming - Wilkinkarra. [RT0503025] (Acrylic on Belgian Linen)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Water Dreaming - Wilkinkarra

Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Walungurru. [RT1206027] (Acrylic on Belgian Linen)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Walungurru

Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Walungurru. [RT1203083] (Acrylic on Belgian Linen)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Walungurru

Australian Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) artwork by RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA of Papunya Tula Artists. The title is Walungurru. [RT1304046] (Acrylic on Belgian Linen)

RONNIE TJAMPITJINPA

Walungurru

As a young lad close to 13 years of age Ronnie Tjampitjinpa walked with his family out of the West Australian desert and settled into life in the tumultuous and crowded settlement of Papunya.

It was the height of the assimilationist era as the Australia Government oversaw the movement of traditional nomadic people from their Pintupi homelands. In 1971, at the dawn of the Desert painting movement, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was in his late 20’s.

After attending the European-style school in Papunya he returned to the Western Desert, went through initiation at Umari near his birthplace in the region near Muyinnga, about 100 km west of the Kintore Ranges, spent time in Yuendumu and then returned to live with his relatives in Papunya.

There he worked as a police tracker, health worker, and labourer.

His earlier tribal initiation into ceremonial knowledge along with his familiarity with country and sacred sites stood him in good stead when he began painting in his early thirties, under the tutelage of Old Mick Tjakamarra.

As senior custodian of the Honey Ant Dreaming, Tjakamarra had played an instrumental role in initiating the Papunya art movement.

Ronnie was one of the youngest men who began painting in the mid 1970’s and his artistic output was initially small as he moved regularly between Papunya, Yuendumu and Mount Doreen Station.

As the younger generation no longer lived in close proximity to their traditional homelands painting had become an important means for the older law keepers to pass on their knowledge of sacred sites.

Ronnie, having been initiated, became an important participant and mediator in this process. The classic Pintupi style of linked concentric circles tells of a sacred geometry.

It is derived from body paint designs, cartography of country and ancestral narratives.

A consolidating conformity existed between the older painters as they worked out the ground rules for telling the Dreaming while protecting sacred content.

Being one of the youngest to begin painting, Ronnie began to demonstrate a more bold and expressionistic approach.

Laborious, individual dots evolved into linked or ‘flicked’ dotting and a strong linear emphasis.

Distinct iconographic features such as circles and U shapes were relinquished in favour of abstraction and the creation of a vibrant, painterly surface.

These developments were encouraged by the return to tribal lands that was facilitated by a change in government and Indigenous policies in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was a strong advocate for this outstation movement that was given impetus and partly funded by Papunya art sales.

During this period he travelled to Yuendumu, Balgo Hills and Mount Doreen encouraging as many people as he could to return to their traditional Pintupi lands.

In 1983 he moved with his family to the small settlement of Ininti-Redbank, near Kintore, and stopped painting for a few years due to his political involvements.

This included becoming chairman of the Kintore outstations council and his involvement in important claims for land rights.

He had already pioneered new ways of interpreting his ancient visual language and soon returned to painting with new enthusiasm, describing politics as 'too much humbug'.

The more focused environment of his own community fuelled his distinct aesthetic preoccupation. In 1984 Tjampitjinpa won the Northern Territory Art Award.

This became controversial when other contestants complained that Papunya art was folk art and not worthy of the ‘high art’ title, a strangely persistent attitude in some art circles at that time.

The moment became an historic landmark when Judge Nancy Underhill upheld her decision defending his entry, Happening at Mt.

Leibig, as genuine art and notably of the highest standard.

Demand for Tjampitjinpa’s work grew and his leaning towards painterly abstraction was increasingly favoured and encouraged by the contemporary art market.

He emerged as a leading figure, sustaining the boom in the national and international reputation of Aboriginal art during the 1990’s. Ronnie's works first appeared in Papunya Tula exhibitions during the 1970s, and later in commercial art galleries in Sydney and Melbourne throughout the 1980's.

He won the Alice Springs Art Prize in 1988. More than any other figure, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa can be credited with having forged a new artistic direction in embracing a new aesthetic minimalism, thereby freeing up further possibilities for the younger up-coming generation of painters, and challenging fixed perceptions of Western Desert art.

His hypnotic designs explore interacting geometric shapes which emanate an eye-catching, pulsating action.

Still infused with the Dreamings of his mythical Tingari ancestors, Tjampitjinpa refined the characteristic Pintupi simplicity of design, boldly scaling up fundamental pictorial elements, freeing them from their iconographic reference points and strongly emphasizing the distinctive repetition of line and form that has always infused Pintupi art with the spirit of their vast and ancient lands. From the mid 1990’s Ronnie Tjampitjinpa began painting for a wide array of dealers, only occasionally returning to work with Papunya Tula.

Works carrying the Papunya Tula certification and in this size and quality are very very rare and if you are to buy something in this price range you should ensure it is coming for the best possible, ethical source.

Even though Ronnie frequently worked for other dealers Papunya Tula organised solo exhibitions for him across Australia and in 2004 was elected Chairman of the company.

His work has been included in major survey exhibitions in Australia and overseas yet he eschews the trappings of fame and fortune as he divides his time between working as a painter and his ceremonial obligations.

Able to earn money wherever he goes, Ronnie is the quintessential modern nomad, familiarly known across a wide expanse of country as he constantly travels in his four-wheel drive with his spears tied on the roof. A couple of years ago, Ronnie's work was accepted into the esteemed collection of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

Located on the banks of the River Seine, neighbouring the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay and at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du quai Branly is a leading French museum, housing extraordinary art collections from Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas.

This will only add to the demand for his work.

He is of course in every major collection out there that has Aboriginal content and he is unfortunately one of the last links to that magical initial group of people that started this modern Aboriginal art movement..



As a young lad close to 13 years of age Ronnie Tjampitjinpa walked with his family out of the West Australian desert and settled into life in the tumultuous and crowded settlement of Papunya.

It was the height of the assimilationist era as the Australia Government oversaw the movement of traditional nomadic people from their Pintupi homelands. In 1971, at the dawn of the Desert painting movement, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was in his late 20’s.

After attending the European-style school in Papunya he returned to the Western Desert, went through initiation at Umari near his birthplace in the region near Muyinnga, about 100 km west of the Kintore Ranges, spent time in Yuendumu and then returned to live with his relatives in Papunya.

There he worked as a police tracker, health worker, and labourer.

His earlier tribal initiation into ceremonial knowledge along with his familiarity with country and sacred sites stood him in good stead when he began painting in his early thirties, under the tutelage of Old Mick Tjakamarra.

As senior custodian of the Honey Ant Dreaming, Tjakamarra had played an instrumental role in initiating the Papunya art movement.

Ronnie was one of the youngest men who began painting in the mid 1970’s and his artistic output was initially small as he moved regularly between Papunya, Yuendumu and Mount Doreen Station.

As the younger generation no longer lived in close proximity to their traditional homelands painting had become an important means for the older law keepers to pass on their knowledge of sacred sites.

Ronnie, having been initiated, became an important participant and mediator in this process. The classic Pintupi style of linked concentric circles tells of a sacred geometry.

It is derived from body paint designs, cartography of country and ancestral narratives.

A consolidating conformity existed between the older painters as they worked out the ground rules for telling the Dreaming while protecting sacred content.

Being one of the youngest to begin painting, Ronnie began to demonstrate a more bold and expressionistic approach.

Laborious, individual dots evolved into linked or ‘flicked’ dotting and a strong linear emphasis.

Distinct iconographic features such as circles and U shapes were relinquished in favour of abstraction and the creation of a vibrant, painterly surface.

These developments were encouraged by the return to tribal lands that was facilitated by a change in government and Indigenous policies in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was a strong advocate for this outstation movement that was given impetus and partly funded by Papunya art sales.

During this period he travelled to Yuendumu, Balgo Hills and Mount Doreen encouraging as many people as he could to return to their traditional Pintupi lands.

In 1983 he moved with his family to the small settlement of Ininti-Redbank, near Kintore, and stopped painting for a few years due to his political involvements.

This included becoming chairman of the Kintore outstations council and his involvement in important claims for land rights.

He had already pioneered new ways of interpreting his ancient visual language and soon returned to painting with new enthusiasm, describing politics as 'too much humbug'.

The more focused environment of his own community fuelled his distinct aesthetic preoccupation. In 1984 Tjampitjinpa won the Northern Territory Art Award.

This became controversial when other contestants complained that Papunya art was folk art and not worthy of the ‘high art’ title, a strangely persistent attitude in some art circles at that time.

The moment became an historic landmark when Judge Nancy Underhill upheld her decision defending his entry, Happening at Mt.

Leibig, as genuine art and notably of the highest standard.

Demand for Tjampitjinpa’s work grew and his leaning towards painterly abstraction was increasingly favoured and encouraged by the contemporary art market.

He emerged as a leading figure, sustaining the boom in the national and international reputation of Aboriginal art during the 1990’s. Ronnie's works first appeared in Papunya Tula exhibitions during the 1970s, and later in commercial art galleries in Sydney and Melbourne throughout the 1980's.

He won the Alice Springs Art Prize in 1988. More than any other figure, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa can be credited with having forged a new artistic direction in embracing a new aesthetic minimalism, thereby freeing up further possibilities for the younger up-coming generation of painters, and challenging fixed perceptions of Western Desert art.

His hypnotic designs explore interacting geometric shapes which emanate an eye-catching, pulsating action.

Still infused with the Dreamings of his mythical Tingari ancestors, Tjampitjinpa refined the characteristic Pintupi simplicity of design, boldly scaling up fundamental pictorial elements, freeing them from their iconographic reference points and strongly emphasizing the distinctive repetition of line and form that has always infused Pintupi art with the spirit of their vast and ancient lands. From the mid 1990’s Ronnie Tjampitjinpa began painting for a wide array of dealers, only occasionally returning to work with Papunya Tula.

Works carrying the Papunya Tula certification and in this size and quality are very very rare and if you are to buy something in this price range you should ensure it is coming for the best possible, ethical source.

Even though Ronnie frequently worked for other dealers Papunya Tula organised solo exhibitions for him across Australia and in 2004 was elected Chairman of the company.

His work has been included in major survey exhibitions in Australia and overseas yet he eschews the trappings of fame and fortune as he divides his time between working as a painter and his ceremonial obligations.

Able to earn money wherever he goes, Ronnie is the quintessential modern nomad, familiarly known across a wide expanse of country as he constantly travels in his four-wheel drive with his spears tied on the roof. A couple of years ago, Ronnie's work was accepted into the esteemed collection of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

Located on the banks of the River Seine, neighbouring the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay and at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du quai Branly is a leading French museum, housing extraordinary art collections from Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas.

This will only add to the demand for his work.

He is of course in every major collection out there that has Aboriginal content and he is unfortunately one of the last links to that magical initial group of people that started this modern Aboriginal art movement..



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