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MITJILI NAPURRULA

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BIOGRAPHY

Artist: Mitjili Napurrula
Skin Name: Napurrula (Naparrula)
Born: c.1945
Region: Haasts Bluff
Language: Pintupi
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Uwalki Watiya Tjuta.

 

ABOUT ARTIST

Mitjili Napurrula is a Pintupi woman born at Haasts Bluff around 1945. Her family is one of great importance in the Aboriginal community of Papunya. Her mother is Tjunkayi Napaltjarri, a well known artist who was involved in the 

'Minyma Tjukurrpa Project' and consequently became one of the principal women painters at Kintore. Her brother is the late chairman of Papunya Tula Artists, Turkey Tolson, who is also renowned for his artworks which are sought by investors all over the world. Mitjili was married to artist Long Tom Tjapanangka. Long Tom won the prestigious 1999 Telstra Art Award and also gave her the motif of the Irantji ranges she incorporates in her latter paintings. Mitjili's sister is Wintjiya Napaltjarri and wife to Turkey Tolsen's father, Tupa. She first began painting in 1993 for the Ikuntji Women's Centre. Mitjili paints the female side to her father's Dreaming, which is the story of the spear straightening ceremony as taught to her by her mother. Mitjili also paints the topography of her father's country Uwalki, with its pristine sand hills, shrubs and Watiya which are the trees that traditionally provide wood for spears. 

The most prominent theme in Mitjili's painting concerns the watiya tjuta (Acacia trees) which relate to men's business and her recurring tree motif is based on patterns her mother used to draw in the sand. In her paintings the tree emerges from beneath a veil of diluted paint, applied using the dot-dot technique, giving the impression of solid colour. Other Dreamings Mitjili has inherited include Wangunu or Portulaca (small black seeds ground and used to make damper), as well as Arkatjirri  a fruit similar to a sultana that is found in the bush. A large body of her work includes vibrant reds, yellows and browns, which serve to communicate the essence of flowers, many of her works being primarily concerned with their representation. Her superb sense for spacing, patterning and colour is distinctively appealing and indicative of her playful manner. 

Since she began working with the Ikunti artists she has developed her own strong and distinctive personal style that has gained her acclaim within Australia and internationally. Mitjili's exhibitions regularly sell out. Her work was included in the exhibition Spirit Country: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco 1999 and featured in the Adelaide Biennial 2000, Beyond the Pale. Her work is held in major public and private collections in Australia and overseas.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS: 

• 1996 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC 

• 1997 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC

• 1998 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC

• 2000 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC

•  2008 Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW  

GROUP EXHIBITIONS:

• 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998 Australian Heritage Art Award, Canberra

• 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

• 1994 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne

• 1994 Hotel Shangri-la and Australian High Commission, Singapore

• 1994, 1998 Adelaide Fringe Festival

• 1994 Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney

• 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin

• 1995 Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

• 1995, 1997, 1999 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney

• 1996 Gallerie Australis, Adelaide

• 1996 The Meeting Place - touring exhibition, Australia

• 1996, 1998, 2000 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

• 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 Aboriginal Art Galerie Bahr, Speyer, Germany

• 1997 Goteborgs Konstforening, Goteborg, Sweden

• 1997 Arnhem Land, The Netherlands

• 1997 Alliance Francaise, Canberra

• 1998 Art Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

• 1998 Spazio Pitti Arte Florence, Italy

• 1998 Framed Gallery, Darwin

• 1998 Gallery Dusseldorf, Perth

• 1998 Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs

• 1998 Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne

• 1998 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

• 1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide

• 1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.

• 2000 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

• 2001 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlottenlund, Denmark

• 2008 Black & White: Inspired by Landscapes, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney

AWARDS:

• 1999 Alice Prize (Central Australian Art Award), Alice Springs

• 1997 14th Telstra NATSIAA, finalist

• 1994 Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs

• 1993 The Australian Heritage Award, Canberra 

COLLECTIONS:

• National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

• National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

• Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide

• Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

• Artbank

• Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

• Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth

• Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

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