Untitled bears catalogue number 19092 on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on composition board 65 x 45cm
PROVENANCE: Painted circa 1972 Acquired directly from the artist at Papunya by the original vendor in October 1972 Sotheby's, Aboriginal Art, Sydney, 28-29 July 2003, lot 170 Ebes Collection, Melbourne
An early painting by one of the leading lights of the Papunya movement, this work is no longer accompanied by its documentation. Nonetheless, the composition based on a prominent X form with a circular waterhole or site at its central juncture is often referred to by Geoffrey Bardon as a Travelling Dreaming, in other words the image tracks the journey of ancestors across the landscape; see for example a work by that title by Namarari executed in 1972 in Bardon, G. and J. Bardon, Papunya, A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of the Western Desert Painting Movement, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2004, painting 153, p.237. Porcupine Moon Dreaming, c.1978 (lot number 39 in this catalogue), is another example.
The compositional structure, seen in isolation as in this painting, is a detail of the classic grid structures of Pintupi paintings, denoting the pathways of ancestors to various sites of significance. This repeated form became the hallmark of some of the earliest monumental canvases of the 1980s by Pintupi painters in works associated with highly esoteric knowledge of the Tingari ancestors, such as Willy Tjungurrayi's Tingari Story, 1986, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (illustrated in Perkins, H. and H. Fink (eds), Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales in association with Papunya Tula Artists, 2000, pp.96-7). In fact this painting bears similarities of design and palette to a contemporaneous work by Namarari about the Tingari Tingari cycle Dreaming Journey, 1972 illustrated in Ryan, J, J. Kean et al, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert art, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2011, p.174, and in Bardon and Bardon, 2004, painting 151, p.235.
Namarari's tapestry of dotted forms also presages his pictorially minimal series of paintings of the 1990s based on the Tjunginpa Mouse ancestors as in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Untitled (Tjunginpa Mouse Dreaming), 1998, (illustrated in Perkins, H. and M. West (eds.), One Sun, One Moon: Aboriginal Art in Australia, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2007, p.185).