Exhibitions: Unfolding Tales: Selections from the Contemporary Collection

Tjungurrayi: Untitled

Geometric shapes defined by densely brushed dots fill this canvas by the contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi. Part of an artistic movement that began in the early 1970s with the Pintupi (clan), of which he is a member, Tjungurrayi adopted the format of painting on canvas to depict what might be considered a cosmological landscape that encompasses the past, present, and future. The serpents relate to ancestors who created the waterholes, indicated by concentric circles, at a specific desert, with the background patterns representing its sand hills. These symbols are only a few that are used to convey centuries-old cultural traditions of Australian indigenous peoples, including stories of creation, legends of ancestors, and daily customs, that are passed down orally or through ephemeral sand paintings.