top of page

Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula

DOB: c. 1930

BORN: Tjangimanta, north-east of Kiwirrkura


Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula (c. 1930–2016) was born north-east of the Kiwirrkura Community at the soakage site of Tjangimanta, one of the most remote parts of the Australian outback. Johnny’s paintings often depict the landscapes associated with the water soakage sites and other sacred ceremonial sites associated with the Tingari Cycle. In mythological times a large group of Tingari Men passed through this site during their travels north to Lake Mackay, and since events associated with the Tingari Cycle are of a secret nature, no further details were shared.

Johnny typified the resilience of Pintupi life in the Western Desert, one of the harshest environments on the planet. He was born traditionally and roamed with his wife, celebrated artist Walangkura Napanangka, and their family as nomads until having contact with Europeans in the 1950s. He moved to the Papunya settlement before later returning to his traditional country during the homeland movement of the early 1980s. From then on, Johnny spent his time between the Pintupi communities of Kintore and Kiwirrkura where Papunya Tula Artists had established studios to service the painters.


Johnny was an integral part of Papunya Tula Artists for his entire artistic career, as well as being a highly respected cultural figure within the Pintupi Community. During his career he was represented in over one hundred and twenty exhibitions around the world, a truly staggering output of work that earnt him the highest respect among the Australian Indigenous art community. Johnny was also a finalist four times in the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Australia’s premier Indigenous art award held annually in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Nici Cumpston, Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia said of his work: “A fascinating aspect of Tjupurrula’s unique painting style is that he uses one of two opposing palettes. Each painting begins along a primed red ground where the tracks of ancestral men’s journeys are outlined in solid black brushstrokes. It is at this point that his paintings take on one of two distinctly different tonal ranges. Vivid orange, red and yellow outcroppings are nestled amongst bold shapes of purple and white. His brushstrokes are meticulous, dabbing and dragging the paint, he works the paint into shapes that are at once ordered and chaotic. In complete contrast he creates works using soft muted white, yellow, pink and purple. By delicately scratching fine elusive marks, he painstakingly works up larger expanses of ground.”




Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula painting

Title: Tingari

Artist: Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula

Acrylic on linen

Painted: 2010

Size: 116cm x 96cm approximately

Catalogue number: JYT1670

Price: $12,000.00

Provenance: Down Under Aboriginal Art Gallery
> Private Collection

Location: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Johnny Yungut 0301.jpg

Title: Tingari site of Kirri Wirri

Artist: Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula

Acrylic on linen

Painted: 2003

Size: 150cm x 152cm approximately

Catalogue number: JYT0301

Price: $18,000.00

Provenance: Arnhem Land Art NT
> Private Collection

Location: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Please refer to our FAQs for more information about purchasing with confidence from The Indigenous Art Book.

bottom of page