Walala Tjapaltjarri 

Born:          1960

People:       Pintupi

Language:  Pintupi

Area:          Kiwirrkura,                        WA-NT.




Walala was born in the early 1960’s at Marua to the east of Kiwirrkurra in the Gibson Desert.

In late 1984, Walala and eight other relatives of the Pintupi Tribe walked out of the desert in Western Australia and made contact for the first time with European society. Described as 'The Lost Tribe', he and his family created international headlines. Until this time Walala and his family lived the traditional and nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer society. Their intimate knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna and waterholes allowed them to survive, as their ancestors had for thousands of years. It is this sacred landscape with its significant sites that Walala so strikingly describes in his paintings.

Walala was first introduced to painting by his brother Warlimpirrnga, also a painter of international acclaim. Walala's first paintings were in the classical Tingarri style, a series of sacred and secret mythological songs which is associated with his Dreaming sites . In 1996 he developed his own style of  work. He began abstracting the classical Pintupi designs, creating a highly graphic language to speak of his country and ceremonial sites. The rectangles so prominent in his paintings form both a physical and spiritual map.

His style is strongly gestural and boldly graphic, one that is generally highlighted by a series of rectangles set against a monochrome background. He paints the Tingarri Cycle,  a series of sacred and secret mythological song cycles which are associated with the artist's many dreaming sites - they are Wilkinkarra, Maruwa, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, to name a few. These Dreamings are the locations of significant rockholes, sandhills, sacred mountains and water soakages in the Gibson Desert.

In the three years Walala has been painting, he has gained worldwide recognition, participating in several national and international solo and group exhibitions. His paintings are represented in private and public collections in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.

1998 Tingari - Men's Business', Coo-ee Gallery, Sydney; ‘Walala Tjapaltjarri Paintings,’ Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne; 'Tingarri Cycle' an exhibition of works by Walala Tjapaltjarri, Fire-Works Gallery, Brisbane;  'Tingarri - My Dreaming', Japingka Gallery, Fremantle; '15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award', Darwin.

1999 'Painting the Desert' Alliance Francaise de Canberra and the French Embassy. Canberra; 'Spirit Country' The California Palace of the Legion of Honour, San Francisco; 'Recent Works by Walala Tjapaltjarri and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri', Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London; 'Tingari Cycle, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane; ‘16th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award,’ Darwin.

2000 'Lines', Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane; 'My Country - Journeys of our Ancestors' Ancient Earth Indigenous Art, Cairns; 'Landmarks Exhibition', Dar Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse; 'Fifth National Indigenous Heritage Art Award', Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra; 2000-01 'The Art of Place Exhibition', Australian Heritage Commission, National Tour; 'Songlines: Walala Tjapaltjarri & Dorothy Napangardi ', Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London;  '17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award', Darwin, N.T; Melbourne Art Fair, Melbourne;  AMP Investments Australia, Sydney; Axiom Funds Management, Sydney; Gantner Myer Aboriginal Art Collection CNC International Corporation, Sydney; Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Perth, W.A. El Paso Energy International Co, Houston, Texas Epic Energy Australia, Brisbane; Flinders University, Adelaide; Hastings Funds Management, Melbourne; Kaplan & Levi Collection, Seattle, U.S.A. New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney; The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.

2002 Aboriginal Galleries of Australia, Melbourne;

This is a promising start for a relatively young artist whose career can only improve over the years with many collectors expressing interest in his works.