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Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

1943 Pintupi land, Australia

1 Works exhibited

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  • About the Artist
  • Curriculum Vitae

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was born in Pintupi land at Muyinnga, about 100 kilometres west of the Kintore Range, just across the Western Australian border. He is the son of Uta Uta Tjangala’s older brother, Minpuru Tjangala (c.1899–1976). Following an extended drought in the 1950s, Ronnie's family moved to Haasts Bluff to Papunya where he grew up.

Papunya was a government experiment under the policy of assimilation where mixtures of tribes were thrown together into one community. It was hardly an ideal way to grow up and gave rise to the desire of Ronnie and many other Pintupi artists and residents to move back to their home lands. Whilst in Papunya, Ronnie started painting in the early 1970s. He was among the first of the Pintupi men to embrace art as a means of recording culture and thus took part at the genesis of the western desert art movement. He appeared in his first exhibition in 1974 and had his first solo show in 1989. He moved to Kintore in the 1980s, shortly after its establishment, fulfilling his dream of returing to his homelands.

Ronnie's style tends towards simple, geometric shapes and bold lines. He explores the themes of water dreaming, bushfire dreaming and the Tingari cycle. Tingari are the legendary beings of the Pintupi people that travelled the desert performing rituals, teaching law, creating landforms and shaping what would become ceremonial sites. As far as we can know, the meanings behind Tingari paintings are multi-layered, however, those meaning are not available to the uninitiated. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was the winner of the 1988 Alice Springs Art Prize and has been a finalist in numerous prestigous art prizes in the intervening 30 or so years. He is regarded as one of Aboriginal art's most collectable artists, appearing in over 30 major collections worldwide.

Ronnie is married to Mary Brown Napangardi and continues to reside in the small Pintupi community of Kintore, deep into a remote desert area, about 500km west of Alice Springs. Biography: After his initiation into Pintupi law at the site of Yumari, Tjampitjinpa and his younger brother Smithy Zimran Tjampitjinpa walked into the Aboriginal community of Yuendumu. They later joined their parents and other siblings – who had come in to Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) in 1956 from the Dover Hills/Yumari area – at the new settlement of Papunya. Tjampitjinpa worked as a labourer, assisting with the fencing of the aerodromes at Papunya and Ikuntji. He was one of the youngest of the group of men who began painting at the start of the Western Desert art movement in 1971, and was a founder of Paunya Tula Artists.

During the 1970s, Tjampitjinpa was preoccupied with returning to his traditional lands and became a strong advocate for the outstation movement, travelling between meetings in Papunya, Yuendumu, Wirrimanu (Balgo) and Mount Doreen Station. His goal was finally achieved with the establishment of the Walungurru (Kintore) settlement in 1981. Tjampitjinpa moved there with his young family in 1983, establishing an outstation at Ininti (Redbank) and serving as chairman of the Kintore Outstation Council. During this period, he emerged as one of Papunya Tula Artists’ major painters, pioneering the bold, scaled-up, linear style that came to dominate many of the Walungurru painters’ work during the 1990s.

His distinctive aesthetic preoccupation is exemplified in his works. Now one of the last founding members of Papunya Tula Artists, Tjampitjinpa’s career spans more than 40 years. He has had six solo exhibitions since 1989 in Australia, most recently at Utopia Art, Sydney. Throughout the 1980s Tjampitjinpa worked devotedly on a land claim for Ininti, holding meetings in Darwin, Warmun (Turkey Creek), Utopia and many other places before finally abandoning political involvement as ‘ ... too much humbug for too long’. Tjampitjinpa now resides on his out-station when not at Walungurru or in Mparntwe (Alice Springs).


British Museum, London
Musee du quai Branly, Paris, France
Musee des Arts Africans et Oceaniens, Paris
Donald Kahn Collection, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Miami Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Supreme Court of Northern Territory, Darwin
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
Owen and Wagner Collection, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover Aboriginal Art Museum, The Netherlands
Kluge Ruhe Collection, University of Virginia
Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs
Artbank, Sydney
Campbelltown City Art Gallery, Campbelltown
Medibank Private Collection
Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo
Flinders University
Griffith University Art Collection, Brisbane
Groninger Museum, The Netherlands
Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge
James D. Wolfensohn Collection, New York
Macquarie Group Collection
Allen, Allen & Hemsley
Moree Plains Gallery Collection, Moree
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Riddoch Art Gallery, Mt Gambier
Sammlung Essl, Vienna
Sammlung Klein, Eberdingen
Kaplan and Levi Collection, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo
University of Wollongong
Victorian Arts Centre Trust, Melbourne
Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
The Luczo Family Collection, USA
Parliament House Collection, Canberra

Works by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

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358 x 181 cm



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