Tingari Cycleby George Tjungurrayi
With the use of lines and concentric circles this artwork depicts a map which recounts the travels of the Tingari ancestors. During their journey the ancestors performed ceremonies, shaped the landscape, created certain sacred sites. They instilled law to the Pintupi people of the Western Desert.
George Tjungurrayi was born in approximately 1947 near Kiwirrkurra in the Gibson Desert, in Western Australia. His nickname is “Hairbrush” and stems from his amazing thick locks of hair. I, (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) have always been fascinated with Western Desert Art, in particular, George Tjungurrayi. I am intrigued with the linear patterns and the ancient Dreamings behind those bold lines. George Tjungurrayi is really one of a kind; his strong and powerful physical presence reminds me of a warrior. He has a great sense of humour but is very serious about his work. I adore his hair, totally out of control! We often laugh because I say “George, as well as being a well known artist, your hair is also famous”
George commenced painting in 1976 for Papunya Tula Artists shortly after the first wave of Western Desert art had burst onto the world art scene. His brother Willy Tjungurrayi and older sisters Nancy and Naata Nungurrayi are also very well known Papunya Tula Artists. His childhood and early manhood were spent in the bush around the Gibson Desert, leading a traditional lifestyle away from the Western influences of the world until curiosity got the better of him and he stumbled into the Warlpiri settlement of Yuendumu. In the late 1960’s he moved to the Aboriginal settlement of Papunya in Central Australia. His traditional country spans across traditional sites around Wala Wala, Kiwirrkurra, Lake Mackay, Kulkuta Karku, Ngaluwinyamana, and Kilpinya to the north west of Kintore across the Western Australian border. He is a traditional Pintupi man.
His paintings depict the Tingari Cycle and refer to his ancestral country, the stories and various sacred sites surrounding the area such as Wala, Kiwirrkurra, Lake Mackay, Kulkuta, Karku, Ngaluwinyamana and Kilpinya. His homeland is a clay-pan type environment where water soakages are used by travelling men and the small flesh Mungilypa shrub grows profusely. His artworks are in keeping with typical Western Desert imagery bound by subtle hues of reds, oranges, whites and brown however his art style has evolved to now include brighter colour tones which dominate his canvases.
Central Art has several of his artworks titled “Tingari Cycle” and “Mamultjulkunga”. The artworks refer to the significant sites of George’s traditional homelands and ancestral country in Central Australia. They depict the Tingari Cycle which is a group of ancestral spirit beings who travelled around creating the land forms, performing ceremonies and instilling the law and culture to the Pintupi people. The lines and concentric circles within the artworks depict the map which recounts these travels.
In 1997 George developed a new expression of the Tingari, the Pintupi’s creation figures, this breakthrough led him to his first solo exhibition and was the beginning of him becoming one of Australia’s most collectable Indigenous artists. He has since been voted “The Most Collectable Artists” by the Australian Art Collector magazine and has his artworks in multiple collections worldwide. He has held seven solo exhibitions and been in countless others worldwide. In 2006 one of his paintings was highly commended for the 34th Alice Prize, and in 2010 and 2011 he was highly commended for his entry into the annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and he works have been selected entrants on multiple occasions. This is Australia’s most prestigious art award and his repeated entries only further confirm not only his talent but collectability.
George spends the majority of his time with his wife, Nanupu Nangala and family in his community in Kintore which is approximately 700kms west of Alice Springs. He has five children and a large extended family. He is highly collectable and certainly worth considering as an investment piece particularly if you appreciate Western Desert art.
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Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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