To Dream, to Collect


Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula

1925 - 2001 Napperby Station, Northern Territory, Australia

1 Works exhibited

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  • About the Artist
  • Curriculum Vitae

Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula was an Australian Aboriginal painter whose work has been widely collected and well regarded since the late 1960s. Many of his pieces are said to stand out from that of other Australian Aboriginal artists in the way they present the transitory beauty of water and its transformative effect on the landscape represented in works. Warangkula was one of the Pintupi people and speaker of a dialect of the Western Desert language. He was young when his family migrated following the devastating drought of the 1920s, settling with his extended family near Haasts Bluff in the early 1930s.

The Haasts Bluff Pintupi lived interculturally with Anmatyerr, Kukatja, Luritja, Warlpiri and Western Arrernte people. Following the realisation that a disastrous drought could threaten Haasts Bluff, the swelling population was found a new settlement at Papunya, where water had been struck in 1954. Early in his life his passion for his people gained him roles as a law man, storyteller and painter. He was also a rainmaker. His main ancestral site, 400 kilometres west of Alice Springs was Kalipinypa, a well in sandhill country. Warangkula cites Winpa the Lightning Boss who sang up a storm from Kalipinypa, propelling it eastward and creating a series of waterholes, marking the path of the artist's songline. His talent derives from this ancestor who sang and stamped out songs from his creation of that storm, which Warangkula learned as a young man.

The famous Honey Ant murals being painted on a school at Papunya in 1971 is considered the founding moment of the contemporary Western Desert art movement. Warangkula was involved in this painting, which opened a door to another arena for the other seven men who took part namely Yuendumu Men's Museum, which opened in July 1971. Warangkula's early paintings at Papunya, developed the plastic qualities of acrylic painting, establishing a correspondence between rhythmic dotted patterns suggesting links between ceremonial decoration and depictions of vegetation in the desert. After establishing this relationship between dots and plant life it has become a recognisable metaphor used by many desert art practitioners.

Works from his golden age and a number of successful late pieces are featured in galleries around the world. Seemingly oblivious to the financial and material aspects of life, immersion in his Dreamings triggered by some of his best paintings give the viewer a taste of ancient knowledge, captivating western audiences with a rare comfort about their role as commodities.


National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia.
National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Victoria, South Australian Museum.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia.
Art Gallery of Queensland, Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Aboriginal Galleries of Australia.
Araluen Arts Centre, Artbank, Flinders University Art Museum.
Holmes a Court Collection, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria.
Orange Regional Gallery, Alice Springs Law Courts, Lowe Art Museum Miami USA.

Works by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula

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150 x 110 cm

22670,00 €


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