Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula

Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula
1918 (Mintjilpirri, Western Australia) - 2001

Country: Ilpili
Nationality: Australian
Language group: Pintupi


Johnny Warangkula was born in Mintjilpirri, south of Lake Mackay around 1918. He was one of the Pintupi people and he spoke the Western Desert language. Johnny first encountered white civilization in 1930 when he hid in a tree upon seeing a plane, which he understood to be a devil. In 1932 he met an Adelaide University expedition at Mt. Liebig and afterwards, his family moved to Hermannsburg, where Johnny worked as a labourer constructing the airstrip. He continued working in construction. In 1954, Johnny was chosen, along with Nosepeg Tjupurrula, as an Aboriginal representative to meet Queen Elizabeth II. 

In 1971 Warangkula was involved in the painting of the famous Honey Ant murals on a school at Papunya. This was the beginning of his painting carreer. Johnny acquired painting material and soon developed his own personal style. He was the first to use the dotting technique to describe vegetation, often applying several layers of overdotting. Johnny remained an important force in the painting movement until the mid 1980s, when his failing eyesight reduced his artistic output. His work often depicted Water Dreaming stories, as well as Yam, Fire, Dingo, Wallaby and Egret. Many of his paintings stand out of other Australian Aboriginal artist is the way they present the transitory beauty of water and its transformative effect on the landscapes represented in his works. 


Selected exhibitions:

2018: EXPO Chicago, SmithDavidson Gallery, Chicago, USA
2015: Signs and Traces -  Contemporary Aboriginal Art. Cultural institute Zamek. Poznan, Poland
2011: 'Origins of Western Desert Art: Tjukurrtjanu', The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victory, Melbourne
2001: 'Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art,' Singapore.
1999: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco , USA
1999: 'Tjinytjilpa', Embassy of Australia, Washington, USA;
1999: Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide
1993: Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
1991: Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, USA;
1989: Australian National Gallery, Canberra
1989: Westpac Gallery, Melbourne
1989: 'Mythscapes', National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne
1988: Wagga Wagga City Art Gallery
1982: London, England
1982: Brisbane Festival
1982: Georges Gallery, Melbourne
1981: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 


Holmes a Court Queensland Art Gallery 
National Gallery of Victoria  
Art Gallery of South Australia 
National Museum of Australia Canberra
Orange Regional 
Gallery Alice Springs Law Courts
Museum Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Darwin 
Flinders University Art Museum
South Australian Museum 
Art Gallery of NSW

Artist's locations

view work by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula

Bush Tucker After Rain #620

Kalwa Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa #456

Water and Tucker

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