Aboriginal Traditions Take Shape in Contemporary Paintings by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Minnie Pwerle
Installation view of “40 years of Ronnie Tjampitjinpa,” Wentworth Galleries, Sydney. Courtesy Wentworth Galleries and the artist.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa produces works with heavy symbolism related to masculine Dreaming traditions. The shapes and patterns of Tjampitjinpa’s paintings are bold and geometric, mapping the pathways along which a landscape can be traveled according to sacred landmarks, animals, and historical markers. While referring to secret myths known only to male elders of that tribe, the artist utilizes a freehand style of intersecting, labyrinthine lines over a plane—a type of ancient imagery that has influenced Western artists from
Minnie Pwerle began painting on canvas toward the end of her life, encouraged by her daughter, the artist
While bringing an awareness of the legends and customs of an often invisible minority to a greater audience, the works of Minnie Pwerle and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa create an archive of visual traditions that are threatened by the effacing nature of modernity. Visually impactful as well as historically important, art forms such as these continue to inspire new generations of artists and push the practice of art-making forward around the world.
“40 years of Ronnie Tjampitjinpa” is on view at Wentworth Galleries, Sydney, May 6–20, 2015.