Artist: Walala Tjapltjarri

Artist Profile

Artist: Walala Tjapltjarri
Born: c. 1960
Region: Western Desert
Community Centre: Kintore
Outstation : Kiwirrkuru, West of Lake Mackay
Language: Pintupi
Social Affiliations: Tjapaltjarri subsection

Walala was born in the early 1960's at Marua to the east of Kiwirrkurra in the Gibson Desert.

In late 1984, Walala and eight other relatives of the Pintupi Tribe walked out of the desert in Western Australia and made contact for the first time with European society.

Themes: The Tingari Cycle associated with his sacred sites - including Wilkinkarra, Maruwa, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, which are important rockholes, sandhills, sacred mountains and water soakages within the Gibson Desert.

Described as 'The Lost Tribe', he and his family created international headlines. Until this time Walala and his family lived the traditional and nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer society. Their intimate knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna and waterholes allowed them to survive, as their ancestors had for thousands of years. It is this sacred landscape with its significant sites that Walala so strikingly describes in his paintings.

Walala Tjapaltjarri was first introduced to painting by his brother Warlimpirrnga, also a painter of international acclaim. Walala's first paintings were in the classical Tingari style, a series of sacred and secret mythological songs which is associated with his Dreaming sites . In 1996 he developed his own style of work.

He began abstracting the classical Pintupi designs, creating a highly graphic language to speak of his country and ceremonial sites. The rectangles so prominent in his paintings form both a physical and spiritual map.

His style is strongly gestural and boldly graphic, one that is generally highlighted by a series of rectangles set against a monochrome background.

He paints the Tingari Cycle a series of sacred and secret mythological song cycles which are associated with the artist's many dreaming sites - they are Wilkinkarra, Maruwa, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, to name a few. These Dreamings are the locations of significant rockholes, sandhills, sacred mountains and water soakages in the Gibson Desert.

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