1. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri is regarded as the most celebrated Australian indigenous artist and certainly from the Central Western desert area especially the country north of western McDonnell Ranges. Born in 1932 on Napperby Station, he initially worked as a stock-man on various cattle stations in and around this location to which he cited to as his country. He is known as a first generation artist beginning his artistic career in 1971 and considered as both master and pioneer of the central western dot painting. Clifford foresight to combine the customary traditional along with the contemporary was amazing and as a result he produced art which appeared to progress beyond the canvas in a manner which followed the viewer as they admire the artwork.
2. Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye requires no introduction, she was born at Soakage Bore (Alhalkere) North West boundary of Utopia . Her career as painter lasted only eight years, brief in anybody’s language however in this short time she managed to produce a massive 4000 – 5000 works. Emily Kame Kngwarreye aboriginal art can be described as impulsive and natural. Known for her headstrong and independent personality which was a product of her younger days working with camels giving her abundant strength in both her arms and hands and as a result this constantly is reflected through her type paintings style such as Awelye and yam dreaming (pencil yam and yam seed), drawing long winding with camels giving her paintings, drawing long winding lines and bashing out of dots with her uncommonly powerful hands and arms, exhibiting her capacity to use the most incredible overlays of colours to generate deeply brilliant paintings. As the world become aware of her status as an artist she was constantly pressured from within her community, family and beyond notably with dealers and collectors both nationally and from abroad. Emily was also well known for walking away from her finished paintings without even inspecting the finished products.
3. Minnie Pwerle
Minnie was born in C. 1922 in the region of Utopia. Like her famous sister in law “Emily Kngwarreye” Minnie Pwerle aboriginal artist began her brief but fruitful painting career in 1999 and only painted for approximately seven years. Her rhythmic and linear artworks representing her country of Atnwengerrp immediately captured the attention many collectors both nationally and internationally. In this time it is exterminated that she produced in excess of 4000 paintings. Minnie depicts ”Awelye Atnwengerrp” by painting a series of lines in alternative widths, patterns and colours. These motifs represent aboriginal body paintings which includes the designs painted on the upper torso of women during ceremonies. Motifs can vary from aboriginal ceremony to ceremony. In many cases Australian famous bush paintings motifs have as bush fruit, bush melons form part of the body paint, this is quite prevalent in many of Minnie’s works. These designs are usually defined by meandering linear circles and breast motifs defined by different colours, creating very fluid and bold paintings.
4. Gloria Tamerre Petyarre
Gloria was born in C 1942 /45 at The Boundary Bore Utopia in the Northern Territory. This area is well renowned for producing a large number of Australia’s elite/ famous indigenous artist and within this group is Gloria’ acclaimed aunt the late “Emily Kame Kngwarreye”. Working alongside Emily along with inspiration from other notable women whom produced ground breaking success through their own individual vision created art of great expressive abstraction artwork. Learning from these wonderful tutors Gloria was able to tap this experience and produce her own exclusive aboriginal style. Early in her career she painted the traditional women business subjects, which are predominant in Utopia however her art has now developed to such an extent that the majority of her works are dot free. Gloria’s painting can be described as energetic and vibrant which highlight the energy of the landscape and communicate an underlying strong spirituality with a career which has been in progress for over 30 years Gloria has become one of Australia’s most successful female artists.
5. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa
More than any other figure, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa can be credited with having confirmed a new artistic course in embracing delicate minimalism, thereby freeing up the further likelihood for the younger up-coming generation of painters, and thereby challenging the fixed appreciation of Western Desert Art. Ronnie was born C1943 at Tjiturrunya, West of Kintore Ranges in Western Australia. In the early 1950s’ Ronnie & his family moved to Haasts Bluff and then on to Papunya. Ronnie’s works first appeared in 1975 when he began to paint for the Papunya painting movement. In the early 1980s’ he moved to Walungurru where he has emerged as one of Papunya Tula’s major artists. Ronnie‘s art is a good representation of the characteristic Pintupi style: repetition of forms, simple & bold, and pigments which are often restricted to four basic colours of black, red, yellow & white. However it is widely recognized he does experiment with other colours Since his earliest participation with the central desert art organisation Ronnie has been committed and has emerged as one of the territory’s master painters.
6. Dorothy Napangardi
In 2001 Dorothy Napangardi was the recipient of the 18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Dorothy’s endeavours as an artist at the beginning of her career in the 1980’s saw her focus being greatly determined by memories of her childhood. The painting usually portrayed mainly Bush Tucker – Bush Plum, Bush Banana and other wild fruits which grew in abundance surrounding the location of her birth place “Mina Mina”. Dorothy was born around C early 1950’s at Mina Mina area within the Tanami desert and sadly as a result of a tragic accident passed away in June 2013. From 1997 onward, Dorothy’s artistic pallet developed her own unique and individualist style which depicted the grid-like patterns of the salt membrane on the Mina Mina clay pans marking a remarkable artistic change in her work. Over a three-year period her paintings became less and less elaborate and increasingly sparse, all detail pruned back to the barest essentials. The rows of white dots in the paintings depict the movement of the Mina Mina ancestral women as they journeyed across Lake Mackay, a significant site near Yuendumu in Central Australia. Throughout their travels the Warlpiri women used digging sticks during their ceremonies, as well as for gathering bush tucker. Dorothy regarded as one of Australia’s most collectable artist with her works featuring major galleries both here and abroad.
7. Tommy Watson
Tommy Watson is currently in his seventies and also is recognised as a Pitjantjatjara elder. His initials works were produced at an art centre at Irrunytju located approximately 12kms south west of the tristate boarder of South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory just 40kms from his birth place at Anamarapiti C. 1935. Tommy visited Papunya in his youth witnessing the birth of the Western Desert art at the time; however it was a long way down the track before Tommy felt the urge to tell his stories via his paintings, in fact Tommy began his artistic career in 2002 and his woks were acknowledged with immediate recognition. For a long period of time now the demand for Tommy’s works is constantly exceeding the ability to satisfy the market. His paintings mainly express the history of the land incorporating such features as rock holes, mountain ranges and creek beds. Many of his works reflect or are reminiscent of nuclear shock waves, light waves and explosions which are a reminder of the effects from the British nuclear testing in this locality during the 1950’s. His paintings are often meet a twofold purpose – tending towards “Abstract Expressionism” while observing customary execution through camouflaging and “dotting” and often referred to as shining and radiant. Tommy’s ethics are at the forefront in his defiance to painting worksupon demand. This unique philosophy is reflected in paintings that, at their best, are truly great works of art.
8. George Ward Tjungurrayi
George was born near Lararra, east of Tjukurla Western Australia C. 1945. His first contact with Europeans came via the welfare patrol which was led by Jeremy Long and Nosepeg Tjupurrula at a rock hole south Kiwirrkura. Whilst born to different mothers George Ward shared the same father with Yala Yala Gibbs and Willy Tjunurrayai. He travelled to Papunya in the early 1960’s still in his teenage years and gained employment as a fencer and later a butcher in the community kitchen. Commencing his artistic career in about 1976, he originally assisted senior artists who worked within the tightly knit group of established Pintupi painters. For the novices like George, it was an apprenticeship in the skills, knowledge and cultural obligations required for the artistic function and for eventual ceremonial leadership within his tribal territory. He quickly developed his own technique based on men’s designs used to decorate ceremonial artefacts incorporating dance regalia with their captivating interlocking geometric and parallel linear patterning. George’s paintings relate to “Tingari Cycle” and events associated with “Tingari” which are generally of a secret nature and as such limited details are available. Tingari are regarded as a group of ancestral beings of dreaming who travelled over vast areas of the country, performing rituals and creating and shaping specific sites. George has painted in various locations over a long and distinguished career including Yayayi and Waruwiya (outstations of MT Liebig) and back at Kintore where he worked alongside other prominent artists such as Joseph Jurra Tjapaltjarri and Ray James Tjangala. Today George is a highly regarded Indigenous painter still working, with his paintings being collected and exhibited both within and outside Australia.
9. Walangkura Napanangka
Born in 1946, at Tjitururrnga west of Kintore, in the remote and arid country between the Northern Territory and Western Australia border. Walangkura Napanangka lived with her parents and family, while still a teenager, she trekked by foot along with her family over the hundreds of kilometers from their isolated desert home eventually joining another group as they walked in to the settlements of Haasts Bluff and then Papunya. As one of the last generation to remember a childhood lived in the desert hunting and gathering with her family, Walangkura’s paintings heavily relate to the stories of country and the location of specific sites in her traditional homeland west of the salt lake of Karrkurutinjinya (Lake Macdonald). Early works, created from 1996 onward, are identified by an accumulation of small configurations and motifs covering substantial areas of canvas. Her favourite colour, a deep sandy orange holds sway, highlighted against more sombre blacks and reds and dusky greens or yellows. More recent works show an underlining quality, though still tightly packed with an intensity of geometric line work representing sand hills. Walangkura’s painting depict stories of the country and specific sites of her traditional homeland closely associated with sacred women sites where ceremonies are held in the Kintore area. Several members of Walangkura’s family were & are noted high profile painters. In her later years Walangkura encountered eye issues, this greatly impeded on her ability to paint and sadly she passed away in 2014. She is considered as one of the most collectable artists.
10. Ningura Napurrula
Ningura Napurrula was born at Watulka, south of Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia in C1938 – and passed away in 2013. She was married to Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi (now deceased), an outstanding artist whom was also a founding member of the Papunya Tula Artists. In the early stages of her career she assisted her husband in completing brilliant and meticulous paintings depicting the Tingari Dreaming. By 1995 this influence was apparent when she began painting in her own right. Her powerful structures are identified by strong continuous designs, which are slowly built up through complex patterning, and appear boldly defined upon a background of dense uninterrupted infilling – yet her palette referring to the activities and sacred rituals reflects a subtle, more integrated creativity in comparison to the abstract control of the early classic style produced by the Pintupi painting men. Depicting the use of Aboriginal iconography the painting recounts the travels of her ancestors and the rock hole site of Walyuta (south-west of Kintore) in the Western Desert in Central Australia. Ningura’s work is characterised with the strong dynamism and bold linear design compositions created by heavy layers of acrylic paint. (This is due to desert cultural restrictions that some of the designs are considered of a sacred status and as such cannot be viewed by men or uninitiated women and therefore are first laid down and then covered with thick layer of paint). One of her paintings was used as a motif on an Australian stamp in 2003 in addition in 2006 she was one of eight aboriginal artists selected by the Museum du quai Branly (Paris)to paint a portion of the ceiling and facade. Ningura’s works have been shown and collected extensively throughout within and outside of Australia proof of her prominence as outstanding indigenous artist.