Community IV: Celebrating Forty Years of Papunya Tula Artists

Art Life , Exhibitions Nov 23, 2012 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

In the small community of Papunya in 1971 the foundations for what can probably only be called a revolution in Australian art were laid. After initial encouragement from school teacher Geoffrey Bardon, several local Aboriginal men painted a feature mural of the Honey Ant Dreaming on the wall of the Papunya School. The enthusiasm for the mural sparked individual experiments in painting using traditional designs on ‘boards’ – small sheets of irregular masonite – as the community began to rediscover its traditional artistic heritage. The rest, as they say, is now history. The Aboriginal people from this Western Desert area, predominantly those from the Luritja and Pintupi language groups, founded Papunya Tula Artists the following year (in 1972).

This year, Papunya Tula celebrates forty years as a company and an Aboriginal art movement with a major exhibition at Utopia Art. The anniversary show will exhibit work by emerging and established artists from Kintore and Kiwirrkura in the Western Desert. Artists’ represented encompass several generations from the area and styles range from the dazzling lines of George Tjungarrayi and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa to the pulsing landscapes of Yukultji Napangati, and Nyilyari Tjapangati’s spare and simple canvases. The work of around thirty artists will be exhibited in this show which, apart from celebrating a forty year tradition, sends a clear message on the strong and continuing connection between a proud people and their land.

Until December 22
Utopia Art Sydney, Waterloo
Pic: Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, untitled, 46 x 91 cm. Courtesy the artist and Utopia Art Sydney.

Sharne Wolff

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