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Nyurapaiya Nampitjinpa

Untitled - 2011

synthetic polymer on Belgian linen
183.0 x 244.0 cm
Price Realised: $120,000.00



Commissioned by Yanda Aboriginal Art, NT
Private Collection, NSW



McGregor K and Hobbs R, The Art of Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs. Bennett) with introduction by Nicholas Rothwell, McMillan Art Publishing, Melbourne 2014, Illustrated pp 184 and 185.


Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa was born in Pitjantjatjara country, near the site of today's Docker River community. She saw no white men until she was in her teens and spent much of her childhood at Pangkupirri, a set of sheltered rockholes deep in the range-folds of the Gibson Desert. By the time she walked in from the bush to the ration depot at Haasts Bluff and encountered mission life she had become a magic healer and was soon recognised as a person of great ritual authority.

She moved to Kintore, the new western settlement of the Pintupi, closer to her traditional lands, and then on to Tjukurla, across the West Australian border in the 1980s.  

Nyurapayia, was a close associate of the key painters who shaped the women's painting movement in the early to mid-1990s. She painted only relatively minor mid-grade, formulaic works for Papunya Tula, before Chris Simon, who took her in and rebuilt his Yanda Art business around her.
Living comfortably under Simons’ wing she hit her creative peak painting large, complex canvases depicting her ancestral rockholes in dark, curved lines on black or white, shimmering grounds.

The upshot in the words of journalist Nicholas Rothwell was ‘a suite of paintings that now fill the great private Aboriginal art collections of the world and change hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. Her depictions of the sand-dune country and surrounding rocky outcrops bear a relationship to the designs used for body painting during the inma ceremonial dance.

At the time of her death in February 2013, Nyurapayia had reached the pinnacle of desert law, and sacred knowledge and was revered by women throughout the Western desert.