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MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART

Naata Nungurrayi

Naata Nungurrayi was born deep in the Gibson Desert at the rock-hole site of Kumil, circa 1932. Together with members of her immediate family, Naata led a traditional bush life, travelling among the sandhills and clusters of rocky outcrops that erupt ceremoniously across the desert floor. The cycle of nomadic life continued until April 1964 when, in the midst of severe drought conditions, the family decided to join the growing migration of Pintupi people who had made their way to the government settlement of Papunya, some 500 kilometres to the east.

During their journey in to Papunya, Naata’s family was joined by another small family group which included Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi, his wife Ningura Napurrula and their family. Together they travelled nearly 400 kilometres to the foothills of Yamunturrngu (Mount Liebig). A Nothern Territory Welfare Branch patrol led by Jeremy Long and Nosepeg Tjupurrula met the group there after spotting the smoke from their early morning fire.

 The group arrived at Papunya during a particularly difficult period in the troubled settlement’s history. The ailing inhabitants, separated from their traditional land and source of food, were experiencing a significant increase in their already high mortality rate. Naata, along with her sister Nancy, began working in the community kitchen, where they help provide meals and rations.

In the dismal conditions that prevailed at Papunya, Naata would have witnessed the genesis of the Western Desert art movement in mid-1971, under the encouragement of a school teacher Geoffrey Bardon. From this poor circumstance a miraculous period in Australian art emerged, one that expressed most vividly the Pintupi’s deep desire to return to their distant homelands in the west.

Initially, Naata and her family spent brief periods at the Pintupi outposts of Yaiayi and Waruwiya, approximately 50 kilometres west of Papunya. Once the settlements of Kintore (Walungurru) and Kiwirrkura were established in the early mid-1980s, they were at last able to relocate closer to the country. Naata had traversed in her early life.

Naata, along with a small group of women from Kintore and Kiwirrkura, began painting for Papunya Tula artists in June 1996. Her brother George Tjungurrayi and son Kenny Williams Tjampitjinpa were already established painters for the company. Initially Naata was a reticent member of the women’s painting group, often sitting quietly beside her inseparable late sister Ngangi (Nancy Nungurrayi). She worked slowly on small compositions of lines and roundels that loosely reflected the classic Tingari paintings made famous by the male painters of Papunya Tula.

Naata, like many of the new women painters, began painting the sites and narratives that chart the vast tracts of country surrounding Kiwirrkura. Many early works depicted the rockhole site of Marrapinti, which is a pivotal destination in Pintupi life, where men and woman gathered to have their septums pierced for ceremonial purposes. As Naata’s confidence grew, so too did her presence among the painters. She developed a unique iconography teeming with giant ‘U’ shapes, mollusc-like forms depicting rocky outcrops and deep-etched lines representing the endless surrounding sandhills. She has emerged as an instinctive painter whose command of line, colour and form is immediate and breathtaking. Artist and art are rarely so inextricably linked, each a precious balance of cultural authority, artistic spontaneity and whim.

Few contemporary Aboriginal painters have sustained the attention of curators and collectors so feverishly. Naata has contributed to many major national and international exhibitions including Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2000 and the landmark 2009 exhibition in New York City, Nganana Tjungurrayi Tjurkurrpa Nnintintjakitja – We Are Here Sharing Our Dreaming. A solo exhibition of her work appeared at the Papunya Tula Artist gallery in Alice Springs in 2011. Paintings by Naata have been acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. She has been a regular exhibitor at Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres  Strait Islander Art Award and in 2002 her entry depicting the rockhole site of Marrapinti was highly commended by the judges.

 


SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2020 ‘ORIGINS, Australian Aboriginal Art from the SmithDavidson Collection’, SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2019 ‘Desert Painters of Australia', Larry Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA - from the Steve Martin & Anne Springfield Collections and Kluge-Ruhe Collection of the University of Virginia, USA
2019 Naata Nungurrayi Panels, Kambri Cultural Centre, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
2018 'East meets West', SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2012 'Unique Perspectives: Papunya Tula Artists and the Alice Springs Community’, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Australia
2012 'unDISCLOSED, 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial’, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
2011 ‘Sister, Brother Nyarrumparra’, Papunya Tula Artist Gallery, Alice Springs, Australia
2011 ‘Papunya Tula Women's Art’, Maitland Regional Gallery, Maitland, Australia
2010 ‘Wilkinkarralakutu - Journeys to Lake Mackay’, Cross Cultural Art Exchange, Darwin, Australia
2010 The Desert Mob Art Show, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, Australia
2010 'Desert Country’, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
2009 Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
2009 ‘Tjukurrpa Palulukutu, Kutjupawana Palyantjanya - Sames Stories, A New Way’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2009 ‘Papunya Tula Artists’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2009 ‘Papunya 2009, Senior Pintupi Artists’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2009 ‘Ngnampatju Kanpatja Winki, Nganampatju Yara Winki - All Our Paintings, All Our Stories’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2009 The Desert Mob Art Show, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, Australia
2008 'The Other Thing - A Survey Show’, Charles Darwin University Art Collection, Darwin, Australia
2008 'Papunya Tula Artists 2008’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2008 ‘Ngurra Yurru Kulintjaku - Always Remembering Country’, Cross Cultural Art Exchange (CCAE) at Harriet Place, Darwin, Australia
2008 ‘Marrangku Yara Polyantjaku Ngurrangka - Making Strong Paintings at Home’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2008 25th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2007 Pintupi Mixed Exhibition, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2007 ‘Papunya Tula Artists - Recent Paintings 2007’, Cross Cultural Art Exchange (CCAE) at Harriet Place, Darwin, Australia
2007 24th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2006 ‘Papunya Tula Artists 2006’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2006 ‘Papunya Tula Artists - Recent Paintings 2006’, Cross Cultural Art Exchange (CCAE) at Harriet Place, Darwin, Australia
2006 ‘Yawulyurru kapalilu palyara nintilpayu’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2006 23rd Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2005 ‘Pintupi Show’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2005 The Desert Mob Art Show, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Spring, Australia
2005 ‘Papunya Tula Artists’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2005 22nd Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2004 ‘Pintupi Artists’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2004 ‘Papunya Tula Artists 2004’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2003 ‘Recent Paintings by the Women Artists of Kintore and Kiwikurra', Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2003 ‘Pintupi Artists’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2003 20th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2003 ‘A Way Through, The Sue and Ian Bernadt Collection, Aboriginal Paintings by Women Artists’, Central TAFE Art Gallery, Perth, Australia
2002 'Pintupi Artists', Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2002 19th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2002 ‘Paintings from our Country’, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Adelaide, Australia
2001 ‘Spirituality and Australian Aboriginal Art’, Comunidad de Madrid touring exhibition, Spain
2001 18th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2001 ‘Pintupi Art’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2001 ‘Papunya Tula 30th Anniversary Exhibition’, Canberra, Australia
2001 ‘Kintore and Kiwikurra’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
2000 ‘Pintupi Women’, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
2000 17th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
2000 ‘Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
1999 'Twenty-Five Years and Beyond’, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
1999 'New Horizons’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
1999 The Desert Mob Art Show, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, Australia
1997 The Desert Mob Art Show, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, Australia


Born in Pollock Hills, Western Desert in 1932


Site: Monkey Rep