Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Tribute to A Master

30 March - 27 April

exhibition essay

When people look back at the first fifty years of the Papunya Tula Artists, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa will be counted as one of the giants of the movement and one of the major contemporary artists of the time.

Tjampiitjinpa was living at Papunya in 1971 when the painting movement began. His early paintings reveal a young artist, at home with his subject, and already painting with confidence in the classic style of the era. He was mentored by Uta Uta Tjangala, a leading elder, and highly innovative painter in his own right.

While in the ensuing years he continued to paint, Tjampitjinpa wanted to get back to his country and he directed his energy into establishing a community in Pintupi country to the west, and in 1981 a new 

community was established at Walungurra (Kintore), just inside the NT/WA  border where Tjampitjinpa moved with his family in1983. 

It could be argued that this move heralded the beginning of the most important phase of Tjampitjinpa’s career as he abandoned ‘politics’ to focus on his art, back in his own lands. 

To this point Tjampitjinpa had been employing typical Pintupi iconography, and a finely dotted field, much in the style of the period, but suddenly his paintings became charged with energy, the muted fields gave way to strong colours and contrasts. 

Bold simple forms replaced much of the detail, and the paintings became affirmative in every way. It took little time for these new painting to make a big impression, and not only in the indigenous sector, contemporary collectors and curators began paying attention.

By the end of the eighties Tjampitjinpa had become one of the leading members of the Papunya Tula Artists, his optically charged canvasses were bold and emblematic. In 1988 he was included in the acclaimed Dreamings exhibition in New York and in 1989 his first solo show at Gallery Gabriele Pizzi became a landmark for the new contemporary aboriginal art movement.  By 1993 when he was included in Perspecta he had established himself within the broader context of the Australian Art. His solo show at Utopia Art Sydney in 1994 attracted a broad audience of curators and collectors, and when Genesis and Genius opened at the AGNSW in 2000 Tjampitjinpa was a commanding presence amongst his peers.  

For those that have never met Ronnie, his work gives you some indication of the man, there is a confidence and bravura in his work, it is strong and forthright. When standing with his work there is a pride, at times even a swagger from Ronnie, he is not shy and neither are his paintings.

C.H, 2019 

When people look back at the first fifty years of the Papunya Tula Artists, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa will be counted as one of the giants of the movement and one of the major contemporary artists of the time.

Tjampiitjinpa was living at Papunya in 1971 when the painting movement began. His early paintings reveal a young artist, at home with his subject, and already painting with confidence in the classic style of the era. He was mentored by Uta Uta Tjangala, a leading elder, and highly innovative painter in his own right.

While in the ensuing years he continued to paint, Tjampitjinpa wanted to get back to his country and he directed his energy into establishing a community in Pintupi country to the west, and in 1981 a new 

community was established at Walungurra (Kintore), just inside the NT/WA  border where Tjampitjinpa moved with his family in1983. 

It could be argued that this move heralded the beginning of the most important phase of Tjampitjinpa’s career as he abandoned ‘politics’ to focus on his art, back in his own lands. 

To this point Tjampitjinpa had been employing typical Pintupi iconography, and a finely dotted field, much in the style of the period, but suddenly his paintings became charged with energy, the muted fields gave way to strong colours and contrasts. 

Bold simple forms replaced much of the detail, and the paintings became affirmative in every way. It took little time for these new painting to make a big impression, and not only in the indigenous sector, contemporary collectors and curators began paying attention.

By the end of the eighties Tjampitjinpa had become one of the leading members of the Papunya Tula Artists, his optically charged canvasses were bold and emblematic. In 1988 he was included in the acclaimed Dreamings exhibition in New York and in 1989 his first solo show at Gallery Gabriele Pizzi became a landmark for the new contemporary aboriginal art movement.  By 1993 when he was included in Perspecta he had established himself within the broader context of the Australian Art. His solo show at Utopia Art Sydney in 1994 attracted a broad audience of curators and collectors, and when Genesis and Genius opened at the AGNSW in 2000 Tjampitjinpa was a commanding presence amongst his peers.  

For those that have never met Ronnie, his work gives you some indication of the man, there is a confidence and bravura in his work, it is strong and forthright. When standing with his work there is a pride, at times even a swagger from Ronnie, he is not shy and neither are his paintings.

C.H, 2019