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Tommy (Yannima) Watson

Untitled - 2014

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
121.0 x 91.0 cm
Price Realised: $29,280.00

MP #787


Yanda Art, NT Cat. No. TW201389
Private Collection, Vic

Artwork Size: 121 x 91 cm 

Frame Size: 124.5 x 94 cm 

Pitjantjatjara elder Tommy Watson gained wide acclaim in an astonishingly short amount of time. His first works were created at the community arts centre in Irrunytju, 12 km south-west of the tri-state border where the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia meet. This was just 44 kilometres east of Anamarapiti, where he was born c.1935. Though he recalled visiting Papunya in his youth and observing the birth of the art movement there, he did not take up painting for another 30 years.


According to the creation story for this area, a major battle took place between the White Cockatoo and the Eagle, during which white feathers were scattered and the landscape became indented by the entangled combatants crashing to the ground repeatedly. Grounded in Tommy's paintings are rockholes, mountain ranges, and creek-beds, transmitted in waves of light. Many of his paintings are, in fact, evocative of nuclear shock waves, light waves, and explosions.

His debut at the 2002 Desert Mob show in Alice Springs was followed by his participation in a series of group exhibitions from which his reputation gained momentum. His prominence as an artist of the highest renown was ultimately cemented when, in 2006, he was commissioned to create a permanent installation at Musee du Quai Branly, in Paris.