Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was one of the original desert painters of Panunya to create art on a permanent substrate. He has long been considered one of the Papunya regions finest painters, mastering the signature geometric painting style of the Papunya and Western desert art movement.
Born circa 1943 near Muyinnga, approximately 100 kilometres from Kintore in Western Australia, Ronnie had a traditional upbringing, travelling throughout the Pintupi country with his family. During the 1950’s, Ronnie settled in Yumari to undertake his initiation into manhood, a significant tradition within Aboriginal culture. Severe drought conditions forced Ronnie and his family to relocate to Papunya, where Ronnie entered the workforce as a fence builder.
The Papunya art movement inspired Ronnie to begin painting in 1971 and he soon became incredibly committed to mastering the unique painting style. Ronnie is primarily influenced by his indigenous culture and spirituality, shaped through his migration between Papunya, Yuendumu and Mt Doreen station. In 1981 Ronnie moved to the newly established Kintore and painted as part of the Walungurru community, expressing a strong spiritual connection to the land.
Stylistically Ronnie combines modern painting with his ancient culture, often referencing stories of water and bushfire dreaming along with the Tingari cycle, sacred sites, ceremonies, rituals and laws. Abiding by the strict Pintupi style of circles connected by lines, Ronnie’s work features repetitive lines and geometric shapes in rich colours, typically red, yellow, black and white.
Ronnie is admired for his skill, dedication and perseverance in his artistic endeavours, firstly exhibiting in the 1970’s as part of the Papunya Tula Art movement, and winning the Alice Springs Art Prize in 1988. Ronnie’s work is part of the permanent collections of every major state gallery in Australia. His art is also held in many private collections and has been exhibited throughout Australia and internationally in the United States, Austria and Germany.