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retrospectives: paintings from two celebrated anangu elders

Harry Tjutjuna - Spider Man Harry Tjutjuna was born in the bush sometime around 1930 at a place known as Walytjatjara. This remote area lies north-east of Pipalyatjara community, where he resides today. Harry is one of the most senior Law men of the area with few of his generation still alive. He is also a revered artist and Ngangkari (traditional healer). A native Pitjantjatjara speaker, Harry has strong family ties to the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in South Australia and into the west towards Warburton Ranges. Harry’s country is near Mt Davies in the north-west corner of South Australia. As a young man, Harry moved around the region residing in his early years in the mission community of Pukatja (Ernabella). It began in 1937 and was primarily established to provide medical assistance and western education to local Anangu (the term for Aboriginal people from the area). Harry went to school in Pukatja but he later moved on to work at a settlement, where he sank bores, did fencing and gardening and tended to the animals. He also worked as a stockman, mustering cattle for many years. Eventually Harry moved back to the far north-west with a large family, living in and around Irrunytju (Wingellina) in Western Australia, and Pipalyatjara in South Australia. Harry became a full-time artist in 2005 at Ernabella Arts before moving permanently to Pipalatjara in 2008, where he has continued painting at Ninuku Arts Center. Harry’s knowledge of Tjukurpa associated with the land surrounding Pipalyatjara is extensive, and due to his seniority, is umatched by most other artists. He paints a range of stories including Wati Wanka (Spider Man); Wati Nyiru, the man who chases seven sisters around and eventually marries one (the region’s epic Kungkarrakalpa Tjukurpa); and Kungka Tjuta – young girls telling stories in the traditional way by drawing designs in the sand sand (milpatjunanyi). Through painting these Tjukurpa, Harry connects and identifies with his ancestors, with Wati Wanka (Spider Man) being his most favored subject. Wanka is a ngankari, like Tjutjuna. “He is a powerful and clever man. When rain comes, he hides in his nest. At night time, he changes colour. His name is Wati Wanka (Spider Man). Minyma wanka tjuta (a group of female spiders) are the women and all the children for this man. That’s the story. I am the spider man.” - Harry Tjutjuna. The colorful Wati Wanka, with his distinctive body markings and anthropomorphic legs can be seen as a self-portrait. Around him, the image is filled with a network of overlaid circles, referencing not only the spider web but the Minyma wanka tjuta (spider women) and children of Wanka’s family with the marks made in traditional sand drawings used to teach and tell stories throughout the desert. Today Harry Tjutjuna sits within an elite network of senior Pitjatjantjara painters, including fellow Ninuku artist Sandy Brumby and the late Dickie Minyintiri and Tiger Palpatja. Dominated by active, gestural sweeps of paint that create vigorous constructions with a flamboyant yet masterful use of color, these senior men sit within their own school of painting having created a new visual language of the desert.

“Old generation are here now and I am old generation too. Lot’s of old generation have passed away. What are you going to do? What happens when I pass away?... New generation got to learn Tjukurpa.” (Harry Tjutjuna)

HARRY TJUTJUNA Kungka Tjuta (detail) acrylic on canvas 48” x 60” (122 x 153 cm) Catalog #13264

HARRY TJUTJUNA Wanka: Spider acrylic on linen 24” x 22” (61 x 56 cm) Catalog #14-268

HARRY TJUTJUNA Mututa Tjukurpa (detail) acrylic on linen 72” x 43” (182 x 110 cm) Catalog #13041

HARRY TJUTJUNA Kungka Tjuta acrylic on linen 36” x 36” (91 x 91 cm) Catalog #13119

NGAMARU BIDU and JAKAYU BILJABU, Payarr (detail), acrylic on canvas, 48” x 36” (122 x 91 cm), Catalog #13-849a+b

Sandy Brumby - The Innovative Storyteller Sandy Brumby was born in the bush at Victory Downs, an outstation near Pukatja (Ernabella). As a ‘young fella’, like many young aboriginal men in the 1950-60’s, he worked as a stockman at a cattle station near Kulgera in the Northern Territory mustering bullocks, fencing, and tending to the cattle. Sandy met his wife, Tjukapati Nola Brumby, in Pukatja and they eventually settled in Pipalyatjara, where they had two children. Sandy (his surname refers to Australia’s wild horse) has lived in the Pipalyatjara area for many years, before the communities of Kalka and Pipalyatjara were established. In 2010, well into his sixties, Sandy picked up a paint brush for the first time having discovered a passion for paint and a strong need to tell his story. His paintings are striking. Raw and bold, his works demonstrate a strong connection to his country and a deep love of color – selecting with natural intuition – colors that sing beautifully together. The iconography in his work is reminiscent of symbols that are sometimes seen in rock or cave paintings around Uluru and Kata Tjuta. “Mr. Brumby is a slight man, almost petite, but his passion for painting is gigantic” says former Ninuku Art Center manager, Claire Eltringham. “He is never without his well-worn, sweat-stained hat that sits almost oversized upon his head of thin, silvery hair. His blue eyes are cloudy with cataract but his visual impairment doesn’t prevent him from telling his stories with integrity and beauty. His compositions contain shapes all deriving from Tjukurpa – hills, snakes, bush food, water holes – and they float around his canvas with whimsical delight. He has an intrinsic sense of colour. If he had thousands of colours to choose from, he would still know which colours to put side by-side. Mr. Brumby applies the paint with the smallest and most intimate strokes, laying down the paint like delicate sticks for a nest. Like most artworks, his paintings need to be seen “in the flesh” to be fully appreciated. His compositions are intuitive and gracefully designed, but it is the way he fills the space that makes the canvas really come to life - lashings of lustrous paint applied thickly and with the confidence of someone free of all inhibition and on a path of discovery in his creative self.” Sandy Brumby’s approach to telling his story through art is highly individual. Like his counterpart Harry Tjutjuna, Brumby’s contribution to desert painting from the region has expanded our notions of current contemporary art practice. His works have been acquired by significant private and public collections including the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) and QAG (Queensland Art Gallery) and The Art Gallery of South Australia.

SANDY BRUMBY Victory Downs (detail) acrylic on linen 48” x 41” (121 x 105 cm) Catalog #11334

SANDY BRUMBY Wapilka (detail) acrylic on linen 42” x 24” (107 x 61 cm) Catalog #11543

SANDY BRUMBY Victory Downs (detail) acrylic on canvas 24” x 22” (61 x 56 cm) Catalog #13418

SANDY BRUMBY Victory Downs acrylic on linen 24” x 24” (61 x 61 cm) Catalog #14-010

SANDY BRUMBY Kulitja (detail) acrylic on linen 36” x 24” (91 x 61 cm) Catalog #11545

On view 9 February - 10 March 2016 Sun Valley, USA 391 First Avenue North Ketchum, ID 83340 USA | Phone (208) 309-8676 Front Cover: Harry Tjutjuna Mututa Tjukurpa Catalog #10347 Back Cover: Sandy Brumby Victory Downs Catalog #14-274 Copyright 2016 Harvey Art Projects USA & Ninuku Arts



In a first for the gallery, Harvey Art Projects is excited to present two vibrant solo exhibitions by Sandy Brumby & Harry Tjutjuna in conju...


In a first for the gallery, Harvey Art Projects is excited to present two vibrant solo exhibitions by Sandy Brumby & Harry Tjutjuna in conju...