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Vale Yampinyi Napanangka Simon (1928 - 2024)

Cooee Art Leven would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and the artists and staff at Warnayaka art centre, with the passing of Yampinyi Napanangka Simon. Yampinyi Napanangka Simon was a dear friend and dedicated artist and she leaves behind an immense artistic and cultural legacy.


Yampinyi Napanangka Simon works embodied a distinctive, singular aesthetic and her vivid paintings won admirers both inside and outside her tight-knit Warlpiri community.


The country that Yampinyi Napanangka Simon painted was a description of the landscape, yet was simultaneously defined by stories of its creation. Her style appeared to be grounded in abstraction and through the intersection of colour and free-form shapes and dots scattered in strings across the canvas, Simon described in detail the desert flowers, salt encrustations and natural features of Mina Mina, the home of her sacred Dreaming in the south- western region of the Tanami Desert.


"I was deeply saddened by the news but am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with Yampinyi Napanagka Simon over the years. When she first began to paint in the style she became known for, the other women at the art centre in Lajamanu laughed and called them ‘Rubbish paintings’. It wasn’t long until they saw galleries around the world selling out her exhibitions.


I will miss the excitement I got every time I opened a a new roll of her paintings as they arrived into the gallery covered in red dust. I will miss her wicked laugh she would share with her sister when us kardiya would do or say something silly but mostly I will miss the friend I had made all the way down the Buntine Highway back in 2012.

We were fortunate enough to visit her as recently as last May, along with Sydney artist Neil Tomkins, for a painting workshop leading to her last exhibition. I was seven months pregnant during the trip. As she painted a romper for our unborn baby she, together with her sister Annie, decided on his name ‘Jimija (after Annie’s grandfather) Tjungarrayi. 

Her artworks will continue to spread joy. To those lucky enough to share a home with one, cherish this vibrant window into a beautiful soul." 


ngaka rnangku nyanyi - Mirri Leven


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