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Streets of Papunya: the re-invention of Papunya painting

Martha MacDonald Napaltjarri at Papunya, 2015 - Photo Helen Puckey

Martha MacDonald Napaltjarri at Papunya, 2015 – Photo Helen Puckey

Streets of Papunya: the re-invention of Papunya painting is the most ambitious showcase of artists from this famed Western Desert arts centre to be presented in Sydney this decade.

Curated by eminent scholar of Papunya art Vivien Johnson, Streets of Papunya celebrates the renaissance of painting that has occurred in one of the best-known locations of art production in Central Australia, since the establishment of the Papunya Tjupi Arts Centre in 2007.

In particular, the exhibition reveals the remarkable art of the women painters of Papunya today in its contemporary sociological and historical contexts, alongside short films that explore the reality of life in Papunya, and the famous paintings of the current generation’s ancestors. Streets of Papunya includes some of the first women painters in the desert, who joined the original Papunya art movement in the early 1980s, and the daughters of many of the ground-breaking Papunya Tula artists of the 1970s.

Curator Vivien Johnson says the exhibition unearths the history of Papunya as a site of art production since its establishment in the late 1950s with key works borrowed for the exhibition from public institutions: Albert Namatjira’s final paintings, executed in Papunya days before his death in 1959; and paintings from Papunya’s glory days of the 1970s and ’80s, its dark time as the ‘carpetbagging capital of the desert’, through to its inspirational resurgence today as its artists reinvent Papunya painting for the twenty-first century.

Highlighting the work of early, established and emerging artists, The Streets of Papunya reiterates the rich cultural history of painting in Central Australia through the eyes of the contemporary generation.

In addition to new paintings from Papunya Tjupi, it includes significant loans from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Flinders University Collection. Artists in the exhibition from past and present include Albert Namatjira, Charlotte Phillipus Napurrula, Martha McDonald Napaltjarri, Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.

Vivien Johnson’s book of the same name, published by NewSouth Publishing, is launched in association with the exhibition.

 

Streets of Papunya touring venues and dates:

UNSW Art & Design Galleries (Sydney): 5 September – 7 November 2015

Flinders University Art Museum (Adelaide): 12 February – 17 April 2016

RMIT (Melbourne): 7 May – 11 June 2016

ANU Drill Hall Gallery (Canberra): 14 July – 21 August 2016.

 

SOURCE: UNSW Art & Design

 

Warangkula family portrait alongside Warangkula Court street sign - Photo Helen Puckey

Warangkula family portrait alongside Warangkula Court street sign – Photo Helen Puckey

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