This website was developed for the exhibition Irriṯitja Kuwarri Tjungu | Past & Present Together: Fifty Years of Papunya Tula Artists that was on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia from 2021-23 and the Embassy of Australia in Washington, DC in 2024. It was made possible by our creative partnership with Papunya Tula Artists and the generous support of UVA Arts Council. Site design by Urban Fugitive for V21 Artspace.
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Inyuwa Nampitjinpa

Women’s Dreaming at Pangkupirri

This painting was included in the first exhibition of women painters from Papunya Tula Artists to be held outside of Alice Springs in November 1996. Papunya Tula Artists’ manager Daphne Williams had allowed John W. Kluge’s then-curator Margo Smith to preview the works, from which she acquired five important pieces. Smith recalls:

Daphne Williams and Janis Stanton probed me to discover more about Kluge’s enigmatic collection, recalling his memorable visit to the Papunya Tula gallery in 1989. As if letting me in on a tightly held secret, they unfurled a roll of canvases and awaited my reaction. This was a collection of the first paintings by women from Walungurru and Kiwirrkurra, who were on the precipice of emerging as stars. What I saw dazzled me with its passion and immediacy. . . Inyuwa Nampitjinpa’s painting packs a punch. The dots, which had become synonymous with desert painting, are more like dabs, overlapping one another with no apparent definition. White mounds, representing a place where a group of ancestral women ground tiny seeds to make dense cakes, seem to hover above the painting’s gold surface, as if they will momentarily take flight. Are they the grind stones or the seed cakes, or possibly the women themselves? Or all three, simultaneously, exemplifying the multiple layers of meaning in ancestral stories? Paintings like this one fairly ring with the sounds that accompany women’s work, the companionable chatter, fading into whispers when talk turns to sensitive subjects or gossip, and songs recounting deeds of the old people who enlivened the Country.

Language Group: Pintupi
Date: 1922–1999

Inyuwa Nampitjinpa was born at Punkilpirri, a major rockhole site south of the Tjukurla community and north-west of Docker River. She is the mother of Walangkura Napanangka and Pirrmangka Napanangka, who both painted for Papunya Tula Artists. Inyuwa started painting in 1996 and took off in 1997 after the removal of her cataracts. Although she passed away only two years later, she produced a steady stream of innovative works between 1997 and 1999. In June 1999, shortly before her death, she became one of the first women from Papunya Tula to be given a solo exhibition of her works, held at the prestigious Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne. She is represented in the National Gallery of Victoria, which holds eleven of her works.

Are you related to this artist? Are you a scholar of artwork from the Papunya Tula movement? Please contact us at kluge-ruhe@virginia.edu if you would like to add something to this page or see something that is missing or incorrect.