The paintings that make up Pintupi Way, over 90 of them, offer a window into thousands of years of culture and survival for the Pintupi people of the Western Desert.
“The Pintupi roamed the vast desert for millennia, and to survive needed to hold everything about their Country in their mind,” says curator Christopher Hodges. “Their paintings capture this holistic view of their precious land.”
The artists on show are both living and late members of the Alice Springs-based Papunya Tula Artists co-operative, regarded as the very first Aboriginal arts business, dating back to 1972 and celebrating 50 years last year. Hodges describes Pintupi Way as the “most significant” exhibition Papunya Tula has ever staged, providing a cross-section of styles, as well as present work from established and emerging artists.
“United by their expression of the remoteness and the colours of the Pintupi’s traditional lands, the exhibiting works also emphasise the subtle but defined distinctions and diversity within the broad category of Pintupi art.”
“The first painting you will see is by grand master Uta Uta Tjangala, flanked by contemporary maestro Ronnie Tjampitjinpa,” says Hodges. “In the next room Mantua Nangala and Yukultji Napangati bring the best of the new generation, among other masters like George Tjungurrayi and Makinti Napanangka.”
United by their expression of the remoteness and the colours of the Pintupi’s traditional lands, the exhibiting works also emphasise the subtle but defined distinctions and diversity within the broad category of Pintupi art.
“The nature of Pintupi artists is to tell their stories in their own way and thus each artist has a unique style within the genre,” says Hodges. “Each artist has refined their very personal techniques that clearly distinguish their work. Overall, there is a cohesive and clear understanding of space, and a restrained but persistent energy. In some works it’s emphatic, while in others the delicately nuanced surfaces are sublimely seductive.”
This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.
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