Earth. Fire. Water. 1987 - 2015 Ronnie Tjampitjinpa
Opening Night Thursday May 5 6-8pm Exhibition May 5 - June 10 2015
The body of works collected for this exhibition covers the range and diversity of Ronnieâ€™s work between 1987 and 2015. It has been curated to co-inside with the solo retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW, 'Ronnie Tjampitjinpa's Land and Ancestors'. For the past few decades, Ronnie painted for a wide array of dealers as well as the Papunya Tula cooperative. As such, it is a fascinating insight into the way in which an artistâ€™s work varied depending on the various agents that supported his art practice. Earning money wherever he went, he was able to indulge in the sort of freedom mostly denied his compatriots. He was in every sense the quintessential modern nomad. Having eschewed the trappings of fame and fortune he divided his time between working as a painter and his ceremonial obligations, and was familiarly known across a wide expanse of country as he travelled in his four-wheel drive with his spears tied on the roof.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa first walked into Papunya in 1964 at 13 years of age. Heâ€™d begun painting in his early thirties, under the tutelage of Old Mick Tjakamarra following early tribal initiation in the West Australian desert. As senior custodian of the Honey Ant Dreaming, Old Mick had played an instrumental role in initiating the Papunya art movement.
Being one of the youngest to begin painting, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, was slightly more distanced from the ceremonial origins of Pintupi art as practiced by the older men. The classic Pintupi painting style encompasses body paint designs, cartography of country and ancestral narratives. Ronnieâ€™s paintings, however, demonstrated a more bold and expressionistic approach. Laborious, individual dots evolved into linked or â€˜flickedâ€™ dotting and a strong linear emphasis. Distinct iconographic features such as circles and U shapes were relinquished in favour of abstraction and the creation of a vibrant, painterly surface.
With the Pintupi return to tribal lands in the late 1970s Ronnie Tjampitjinpa became a strong advocate for the outstation movement. He stopped painting due to political involvement. As the chairman of the Kintore outstations council he was responsible for important land claims. When he returned to painting in the early 1980s he did so with new enthusiasm describing politics as â€˜too much humbugâ€™. By 1984, heâ€™d won the Northern Territory Art Award.
Demand for Tjampitjinpaâ€™s work grew through the late 1980s and his leaning towards painterly abstraction was increasingly favoured and encouraged by the contemporary art market. He emerged as a leading figure, sustaining the post1990s art boom, having forged a new direction, freeing up further possibilities for the younger up-coming generation of painters and challenging fixed perceptions of Western Desert art.
Ronnieâ€™s hypnotic designs emanate an eye-catching, pulsating action. He has refined classic Pintupi designs, boldly scaling up fundamental pictorial elements and freeing them from their iconographic reference points. His powerful distinctive paintings are infused with the spirit of the Pintupiâ€™s vast and ancient lands.
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