CEREMONIAL DANCING MEN, 1990

Important Australian Aboriginal Art Auction
Melbourne
18 March 2020
16

CLIFFORD POSSUM TJAPALTJARRI

(c.1932 – 2002)
CEREMONIAL DANCING MEN, 1990

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

123.5 x 168.5 cm

bears inscription verso: Papunya Tula Artists cat. CP900141

Estimate: 
$20,000 – 30,000
Sold for $17,080 (inc. BP) in Auction 60 - 18 March 2020, Melbourne
Provenance

Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney, acquired from the above in 1990

Catalogue text

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri was an innovative painter who experimented with combinations of traditional and Western European visual perspectives, as in this deceptively literal painting. The work depicts two men belonging to the Tjungurrayi and Tjapaltjarri kinship groups – a father and son relationship – performing ritual dances. The figures are drawn naturalistically, wearing ceremonial regalia and body paint. The grey and red flecked area represents the dirt kick up by their feet as they dance. The men are also represented symbolically by the U-shapes adjacent to the roundels to either side of the main figures. Tracks of the ancestral Bush Turkey and Kangaroo course through the picture in a rhythm that mimics the choreography of the dance. Given the auto-biographical nature of much of Tjapaltjarri’s painting, the two figures possibly represent him with his father Jajirdi Tjungurrayi or his adoptive father, Jajirdi’s younger brother Gwoya Tjungurrayi (c.1895 – 1965).1 Gwoya is known popularly by the nickname One Pound Jimmy because he was the first Aboriginal person to be featured on an Australian stamp in 1950.

1. Johnson, V., The Art of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Gordon and Breach Arts International, Sydney, 1994, p. 28