Walala Tjapaltjarri - TINGARI DREAMING WT1604

Walala Tjapaltjarri Tingari Cycle Dreaming Australian Aboriginal Art Painting on canvas WT1604


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Artist: Walala Tjapaltjarri
Skin Name: Tjapaltjarri
Born: c.1960
Region: Kiwirrkurra, Western Desert
Language: Pintupi 
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Tingari cycle



Walala was born in the early 1960s at Marua to the east of Kiwirrkura in the Gibson Desert. Walala was introduced to the art by his brother Warlimpirrnga, also an acclaimed artist, who instructed him in the use of acrylic paints and

canvas. He began to paint his own works in 1987 while still in his early twenties. His first works were in the style of traditional ground and body painting and up until 1996; he painted in the 'Papunya Tula style' (roundels, abutting lines and U-shapes set against an in-filled dots background).

In a short time however, he developed his own rhythmic visual language to depict country and ceremony. The subject of his paintings is the Tingari Cycle, a series of sacred and secret mythological songs for men. The Tingari are a group of Ancestor Beings who travelled through the land performing ceremonies to create and shape the country associated with Walala's many Dreaming sites, stretching from near the West Australian border to Central Australia. Among them eleven sites are located throughout his traditional country near Lake Mackay such as Marua, Minatarnpi, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, including Mina Mina, a significant women's ceremonial site where his family used to spend time. These Dreaming sites and songs are depicted in the traditional ochre colours of the desert.

The rectangles of Walala's paintings map both the physical and spiritual dimensions of his sacred country, and his mastery of structure and composition put him as an artist at the forefront of contemporary painting.


  • 1997 - 14th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 1998 - Tingari - Men's Business, Coo-ee Gallery, Sydney
  • 1998 - Walala Tjapaltjarri Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
  • 1998 - Tingari Cycle - an exhibition of works by Walala Tjapaltjarri, Fire-works Gallery, Brisbane
  • 1998 - Tingari - My Dreaming, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 1998 - 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 1999 - Tingari Cycle, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
  • 1999 - Spirit Country, The California Palace of the Legion of Honour, San Francisco, USA
  • 1999 - Recent Works by Walala Tjapaltjarri and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London
  • 1999 - Painting the Desert, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and the French Embassy, Canberra
  • 1999 - 16th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2000 - Walala Tjapaltjarri and Dr George Tjapaltjarri, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
  • 2000 - Songlines: Walala Tjapaltjarri and Dorothy Napangardi, Rebecca Hossask Gallery, London
  • 2000 - My Country - Journeys of our Ancestors Ancient Earth Indigenous Art, Cairns
  • 2000 - Lines, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
  • 2000 - Landmarks Exhibition Dar Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse, QLD
  • 2000 - 5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra
  • 2000 - 17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2000 - Melbourne Art Fair 2000, Melbourne
  • 2000-2001 - The Art of Place Exhibition, Australian Heritage Commission, National Tour
  • 2004 - Papunya: Painters of the Western Desert, Addison Galleries, NSW Peintres Pintupi Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France
  • 2005 - Smoke: Campfire Group and other commissioned works, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane


  • AMP Investments Australia, Sydney
  • Axiom Funds Management, Sydney
  • Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Perth
  • El Paso Energy International Co, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Epic Energy Australia, Brisbane
  • Flinders University, Adelaide
  • Gantner Myer Aboriginal Art Collection, CNC International Corporation, Sydney
  • Hastings Funds Management, Melbourne
  • Kaplan & Levi Collection, Seattle, USA
  • New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney
  • The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA

SOURCE: Birnberg, M & Kreczmanski, JB 2004, Aboriginal artists dictionary of biographies: Western Desert, Central Desert and Kimberley Region, 1st edn., JB Publishing, Marleston.

The design of this artwork is a dominant narrative of the Pintupi people from the Western desert. It refers to the Tingari Cycle - the story of the extensive journeys of Pintupi ancestors as they covered the vast expanse of the desert to create landforms and teach law. The Tingari is associated with secret and sacred men's business and the dominant mode is overtly geographic with a circle and line motif.


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