Aboriginal Art

Patrick Tjungurrayi

Born at Yalangerri near Jupiter well in 1943, Patrick Tjungurrayi lived between the Pintupi community of Kintore, NT and WA community of Balgo – a community of greatly mixed language groups. He was involved in building the old stone houses which were at the old Balgo mission.

Tjungurrayi began painting in 1986 with two works included in the major survey exhibition Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of NSW 2000 and other important exhibitions.

His works have attracted strong interest for their unique combination of Kiwirrkura and Balgo styles and are highly distinctive for their luminescent colouration of oranges, yellows and usually a blueish violet highlighted with white. His very thick application of glossy paint is very much in the Balgo tradition.

With these colours, he created geometric patterns of thin panels of squared arches, concentric circles and waves that drift across the canvas. The optical, geometric patterns of the Kiwirrkura style are given a new life by the brilliant colouration and denser application of paint, more often seen in the work of Balgo artists.

Tjungurrayi’s paintings relate to the events of the Tingari sites from which he has inherited his dreaming stories and the travels of these men and the designs of ceremonies associated with the Wanawarra (rainbow snake) that lived in that area.

In 2008 Patrick Tjungurrayi won the Western Australian Art Award. He is considered one of the more collectable aboriginal artists.

Patrick Tjungurrayi became a strong advocate for health services in the Western desert. An area he sees as chronically underfunded and under resourced. He is the subject of a book by Anthropologist, John Carthy released in 2015. Proceeds of sales from the book go to the Purple House, an innovative health and social service provider.

Sadly, Patrick passed away in December 2017 and he will be missed.


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