Synthetic polymer paint
on composition board
76 x 91 cm
(29.9 x 35.8 in)
In the first three years of the Papunya art movement, Johnny Warangkula produced a series of paintings of the desert landscape covered in native food plants and nourished by rain and rivers of freshwater. In mid-1972, at the time this work was created, a major topic of discussion amongst the artists in the Painting Room at Papunya was the idea of painting 'my country', that for most of the artists was quite distant from the township. These works are characterized by fields of intricate brushwork, where every section of the composition is meticulously detailed in layers of dotted and stippled paint.
Among the artist's finest works, these paintings capture the essence of the physical richness and variety of vegetation and topographical features in the landscape at a dramatic time in the seasonal cycle. Moreover, through the visually mesmerizing application of layers of colour, the artist conveys the notion of the ancestral forces vivifying the landscape.
This composition is an elaboration on the conventional desert iconography for Rain or Water Dreamings: two sets of concentric circles, representing fresh waterholes, joined by a series of meandering lines to represent flowing water. The footprints of the Water Ancestor appear in the lower left quadrant while the black area in the lower right represents a clay pan.