Kurrilnga <br>Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula (c.1930-2006)
Kurrilnga <br>Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula (c.1930-2006)

Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula (c.1930-2006)


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Artist: Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula (c.1930-2006)

Region: Wilkinkarra/Kiwirrkura, West of Lake Mackay, Australia
Language Group: Tingari
Medium: Acrylic on Linen
Date: 1998
Dimensions: 91 cm (36”) x 61 cm (24”). Stretched and ready to hang.

This painting depicts designs associated with Kurrilnga, a site with two rock holes that is east of the Kiwirrkura community. In mythological times a large group of women traveled from Marrapinti, west of the Pollock Hills, passing through Wiruluga and further east to Kurrilnga. After camping at these rockholes they traveled north-east to Lake Mackay. During their travels, they gathered the edible berries and seeds growing in the country through which they passed.

A fascinating aspect of Tjupurrula’s unique painting style is that he uses one of two opposing palettes. This painting begins with a primed red ground where the tracks of ancestral men’s journeys are outlined in solid brushstrokes. Vivid outcroppings are nestled amongst bold shapes with brushstrokes that are meticulous, as he dabs and drags the paint, working the paint into shapes that are at once ordered and chaotic. 


Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula was born in 1930 near Tjungimanta, northeast of the Kiwirrkura Community of Western Australia. An artist with the Warlayriti Artists Group, Johnny grew up in a nomadic family that moved around the region between Wilkinkarra and Kiwirrkura. During the 1950s Johnny, his wife Walangkura, and members of the extended family heard about the Balgo Community from other Pintupi travelers and made the long trip northwards in the 1950’s. Some of the family remained at Balgo, including his brother Donkeyman Lee who later became a well-known artist for the Warlayirti Art Group in Balgo.

Johnny returned to the Lake MacKay region and in 1956 met up with Evan’s Patrol and traveled to Mt. Doreen and Yuendumu with them. He then returned to Lake Mackay and when visiting Lappi Lappi rock hole north of Lake Mackay in 1957 met up with Donald Thompson and, as a result, is featured in the book Bindibu Country (1975). This meeting led to the party leaving the desert and traveling to Haast’s Bluff. He then moved to live in the Papunya Community when it was established in late 1959. He began painting for Papunya Tula Artists in 1997, and now lives at Kiwirrkur. In 1999 Johnny contributed to the Kiwirrkura men’s painting as part of the Western Desert Dialysis Appeal. His paintings depict the dreaming stories and the travels of the Tingari learned during his own travels, using the traditional concentric circle and line design and diminishing square design in subtle and unusual color combinations. Johnny has exhibited in Australia and Europe.

Awards and Honors:

2001—18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, N.T., Australia

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2017 Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula ,ReDot Fine Art Gallery ,Singapore, Singapore
2005 Solo exhibition, Melbourne, Australia

Selected Exhibitions:

2016. Between the Desert and the Moon: Central and Western Desert Artists ,MAMA, Murray Art Museum Albury ,Albury, Australia
2015  Abstraction & the Dreaming, Utah, USA
2013. Landmarks and Law Grounds: Men of the Desert ,Japingka Gallery ,Fremantle, Australia
2012. Murr-mu: Uncovering Aboriginal & Australian Contemporary Art ,Halle Am Wasser ,Berlin, Germany
2002 Paintings From Our Country, Tony Bond Aboriginal Art Dealer, Adelaide, AUS.;
2002 Lines 2, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland, AUS.;
2002 Gallery Gabrille Pizzi, Melbourne, AUS.;
2002 Pintupi Men’s and Women’s Stories, Indigenart, Perth, AUS.;
2002 Art Born of the Western Desert, Darwin, AUS.;
2002 Saluting Papunya, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, AUS.;
2001 Kintore Kiwirrkura, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, AUS.;
2001 Six Painters from Papunya Tula Artists, Utopia Art, Sydney, AUS.;
2001 Pintupi Exhibition, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, AUS.;
2001 Size Doesn’t Matter, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, AUS.;
2000 Aboriginal Art Select Works, Kozminsky Gallery and Fine Art and Fine Art Dealers, Melbourne, AUS.;
2000  Utopia Art, Sydney, AUS.;
2000 Papunya Tula Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, AUS.; P
2000 intupi Men, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, AUS.;
1999 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, AUS.;
1998 Art of the Aborigines, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland;
1998  Gallery Gabrille Pizzi, Melbourne, AUS.;
1997. Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, AUS.; Utopia Art, Sydney, AUS.


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Historical Museum, Oslo, Norway
Luczo Collections, California, USA
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht- Netherlands
Griffith University, Qld, Australia
Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH, USA
Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, USA
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, USA


Scott Livesey Art Dealer, `Aboriginal Art 2005`, exhibition catalogue, Melbourne, AUS.; Scott Livesey Art Dealer, `Masterpieces From The Western Desert`, exhibition catalog,

London, United Kingdom, 2003.; Scott Livesey Art Dealer, `Aboriginal Art 2001`, exhibition catalog, Melbourne, AUS.; `Papunya Tula Genesis and Genius`, exhibition catalog, Art

Gallery of New South Wales, AUS.; 2000.; Kirsty McHarg, `Aboriginal Art Select Works, exhibition catalog, 2000.; Scott Livesey Art Dealer, `Aboriginal Art 2000`, exhibition catalog, Melbourne, AUS.

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