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Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

Love Story at Ngarlu - 1991

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
152.5 x 122.0 cm
EST. $80,000 - $120,000

LOT #49


Painted at Warrandyte Victoria, 1991
Acquired from the artist in 1992 by Peter Los, Western Desert Aboriginal Art


Accompanied by a certificate from Western Desert Aboriginal Art P/L Cat No. POLPCP44


Cf. Vivien Johnson, The Art of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Gordon and Breach Arts International, 1994 Plate 58, page 131 and for a detailed explanation of the iconography p169. Also notes on Plates 4 and 21, and Chapter 3 pp 42-46 for a detailed account of the Ngarlu Love Story.

This is the tale of incestuous lust and the magical spells cast by an old Tjungurrayi man called Lintipilinti in order to seduce a woman of the wrong skin. To achieve this elicit end Lintipilinti uses sacred songs and a hairstring spindle that he made from his own hair and a pair of thin sticks. The man is depicted as a large U shape with a club that he carries beside him. The club has multiple meanings in the sacred version of this mythology, yet even in the public version it is menacing enough. The object of his desire is a wrong skinned Napangardi woman who is travelling from Yuelamu (Mount Allen) looking for the native sugar that is found in abundance on Eucalyptus leaves where it is deposited by small flying ants. The woman does not realise until too late that she is being stalked by the Tungurrayi who is telepathically calling her to him while using ritual paraphenalia and a sacred ground painting. Overcome by lust the Tjugurrayai man drops the hair string that he is braiding and it scatters like love on the wind. A whirlwind blows in an attempt to destroy his love magic but it is to no avail. Though she is a strictly forbidden sexual partner Lintipilinti  shows no concern. Eventually he will be punished at another place for this indiscretion. But this part of the narrative takes place at Ngarlu (Red Hill) where a small oval shaped rockhole water source is found. If prospective lovers drink from the well it is said to have a powerful effect upon them.


In this painting Clifford Possum uses a technique which he called 'straight line' dotting. Possum also includes some of the bush foods the Napangati woman was collecting  when the Tjungurrayi man saw her and was smitten with desire.  Various seed pods (fish like shapes) and Mulga seed stands can be discerned in the luxuriant country around the site. The necklace used by Nungurrayi women in the ceremony and the hunting boomerang and fighting stick of the Tjungurrayi man