Artists / Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Born:               Muyinnga c 1943

Country:         Kintore (Walungurru)

Language:      Pintupi/Luritja

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa is possible Australia’s leading living Aboriginal Artist. He was born at Muyinnga 100km west of the Kintore Ranges in Western Australia c. 1943 and was initiated into Aboriginal Law at Yumari, near his birthplace.

Ronnie is the nephew of one of the founders of the painting movement at Papunya (Uta Uta Tjangala) and he grew up living a traditional lifestyle in the Winparrku area of the Western Desert.  His family travelled extensively across Pintupi territory, moving through this region and also around Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) which straddles the Western Australia - Northern Territory border. After prolonged droughts in the 1950s, he moved with his family, first to Haasts Bluff, then to Papunya.

He started painting around 1971 at the time that the desert art movement began in Papunya and over several years he moved between Papunya, Yuendumu and Mt Doreen Station. During this time, he talked to many people about returning to his traditional lands, a move which was made possible when the lands were reopened to their traditional owners in the early 1980’s.  He moved back to Kintore as soon as the lands reopened.

Ronnie's work follows the Pintupi style of strong circles joined together by connecting lines relating to the people, country and the Dreamtime. The primary images in Ronnie's work are based on the Tingari Cycle and the rites and practices associated with this secret song cycle sacred to initiated men. The Tingari are Dreamtime Beings who travelled across the landscape performing ceremonies to create and shape the country associated with Dreaming sites. The Tingari ancestors gathered at these sites for Maliera (initiation) ceremonies. The sites take the form of, and are located at, significant rock-holes, sand hills, sacred mountains and water soakages in the western desert.  Ronnie’s Fire Dreaming tells of the practice of land development through the practice of controlled burns for reinvigoration.  The lines that run down the centre of these works depict the high point of the land, usually a sand dune from which the men observe and control their fire.

Ronnie won the Alice Springs Art prize in 1988 and held his first solo exhibition with Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne in 1989 and numerous solo exhibitions since that time.  He emerged as one of Papunya Tula's major artists and has been a long time member of the Aboriginal owned Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, of which company he later became chair.

Ronnie is Chairman of the Kintore Outstation Council and currently resides at Kintore on his outstation of Ininti (Redbank) with his family.


·        National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

·        National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

·        Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

·        Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

·        Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin

·        Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

·        Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

·        Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria

·        Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

·        Robert Holmes a Court

·        Medibank Private Collection

·        Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Darwin

·        Artbank

·        Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide

·        Donald Khan, U.S.A.

·        Richard Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.

·        Musee National des Arts Africains et Oceaniens, Paris, France

·        Groninger Museum, The Netherlands


·        1982 Brisbane Festival, Brisbane

·        1983 Mori Gallery, Sydney

·        1986 Galerie Dusseldorf, Germany

·        1986 Aboriginal Arts Australia, Canberra

·        1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1996 Gallery Gabriella Pizzi, Melbourne

·        1988 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

·        1988 Expo '88, Brisbane

·        1991, 1993, Chapman Gallery, Canberra

·        1991 Australian National Gallery, Canberra

·        1991 Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, U.S.A.

·        1992 Aboriginal Artists Agency, Sydney

·        1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

·        1992 Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat

·        1993 Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney

·        1993 Art Museum, Armidale, N.S.W.

·        1993 Art Gallery of W.A., Perth

·        1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

·        1994 Utopia Gallery, Sydney

·        1994 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Milan and Palermo, Italy

·        1994 Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany

·        1995 Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

·        1996 - 2006 Twenty-Five Years and Beyond: Papunya Tula Painting, Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide

·        1998 Jinta Gallery, Sydney

·        1999 - 2001 Spirit Country, San Francisco, touring

·        1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide

·        1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington, U.S.A.

·        1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.

·        2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne

·        2000 Papunya Tula Genesis and Genius, Australia Gallery, N.S.W.

·        2001, 2003 Chapel off Chapel Gallery, Melbourne

·        2003 Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane

·        2004 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

·        2006 Utopia Art, Sydney

·        2007 Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne



·                1988 Alice Springs Art Prize



Ronnie Tjampitjinpa is featured in all books on Aboriginal art and artists.

His work was also profiled in late 2010 in the ABC's television series on Aboriginal art, titled art + soul. This series was researched, written and presented by Hetti Perkins (Hetti is the daughter of the late Aboriginal artist Charlie Perkins and is currently the curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of NSW) who has known these artists since they were all young men at the beginning of the modern Aboriginal art movement. 

Below is a selection of the many publications featuring Ronnie Tjampitjinpa:


Fire Dreaming $11,900 ON SALE FOR $8,900 2011 by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Fire Dreaming $11,900 ON SALE FOR $8,900

Acrylic on Belgian Linen

152 x 122 cm

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Tingari $14,900 ON SALE FOR $11,900 2015 by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Tingari $14,900 ON SALE FOR $11,900

Acrylic on Linen

120 x 190 cm

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Fire Dreaming 2010 by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Fire Dreaming

Acrylic on Belgian Linen

182 x 122 cm