Men's Law at Artist's Country at Murunpa, 1991 bears artist's name, dimensions and Warlayirti Artists catalogue number 668/91 on the reverse, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi label on the stretcher and Aratjara: Art of the First Australians exhibition label on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on canvas 100 x 75cm (39 3/8 x 29 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: Warlayirti Artists, Wirrimanu (Balgo Hills), Western Australia Purchased from Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne in July 1992
EXHIBITED: The View from Balgo Hills - an exhibition of paintings by Senior Law men and women, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, 25 March - 25 April 1992, cat. no. 6 Aratjara, Art of the First Australians, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany, 24 April - 4 July 1993, Hayward Gallery, London, England, UK, 23 July - 10 October 1993; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark, 11 February - 23 May 1994; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 23 June - 15 August 1994 The Laverty Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 20 June - 23 August 1998 Ngurra Kutu: Going Home, Yiribana Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, September 2001 - June 2002
LITERATURE: Bernard Luthi et al., Aratjara: art of the first Australians: traditional and contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, exh. cat., Koln: DuMont, 1993, cat. no. 118, p.272 (illus.) Terry Ingram, 'Germany taps into Aboriginal Art', Australian Financial Review, 29 April 1993 Ville & Casali, (Italian magazine) July/August 1993 Neville Weston, 'London loves first Aussies', The West Australian, Arts Today, p.6, 24 September 1993 (illus.) Art and Australia, Autumn 1994, vol. 31, no. 3, p.323 (illus.) John McDonald, 'Art and Authenticity', Collections, the International Magazine of Art and Culture, 1998, vol. 3, no. 1, p.62 The Laverty Collection, in MCA Now guide book, Winter 1998, June/July/August, p.5 (illus.) Jeremy Eccles, 'The Pleasure Principle',State of the Arts, August - November 1998, p.78 (illus.) James Cowan, Balgo: New Directions, Sydney: Craftsman House, 1999, pl.26, p.82 (illus.) Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Recent Painting from Australia's Remote Aboriginal Communities - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Melbourne: Hardie Grant Books, 2008, p.133 (illus.) Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Australian Aboriginal Art - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Edition II, Melbourne: Kleimeyer Industries, 2011, p.148 (illus.)
Balgo in the Tanami Desert is at the crossroads of several major Dreaming tracks that link the Western Desert and the Kimberley. Its significance as a religious place was multiplied when a Catholic Pallottine Mission was established in 1939. Sunfly (Sandfly) Tjampitjin was a senior Kukatja law man in the community with the ritual stature to paint about the most highly-charged religious subjects such as the Tingari ancestors and their revelatory acts. His paintings are characterised by bold iconic forms that have a sense of the monumental in scale, even thought the dimensions of the support may be modest. These forms dominate the picture plane and convey notions of certainty, clarity of thought and authoritativeness. Men's Law at artist's country at Murunpa, 1991, shows two young initiates (the inverted and joined U-forms at the centre) camped near a large sand hill surrounded by hills, rocky outcrops and water soakages. The painting possesses an autobiographical dimension in that Murunpa, in the Alec Ross Range at the northern tip of Lake Mackay, is Tjampitjin's conception site and where in the latter years of his life he established an outstation.
Sunfly Tjampitjin participated in the first ever exhibition of Balgo art at the Shinju Matsuri Festival, Broome in 1981. In 1986, he featured prominently in the groundbreaking exhibition Art from the Great Sandy Desert at the Art Gallery of Western Australia which put the artists of Balgo on the map of Australian art. The exhibition was mounted in conjunction with the anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt who had been conducting fieldwork at Balgo since 1958. Sunfly has been represented in several major international exhibitions including L'été australien à Montpellier: 100 chefsd'oeuvre de la peinture australienne, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France, in 1990; Aboriginal Paintings from the Desert, Union of Soviet Artists Gallery, Moscow, and Museum of Ethnographic Art, St. Petersburg, in 1991; Crossroads- Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, in 1992; and ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, the Hayward Gallery, London, and the Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark, in 1993-4.
This painting is sold with accompanying Warlayirti Artists documentation.
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