The announcement of Yukultji Napangati’s ‘Untitled’ as the winner of THE 37th ALICE PRIZE at its opening on Friday night gave due recognition to her rising importance as a contemporary artist and was a proud moment for Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd and for her daughter.
Napangati lives in the remote community of Kiwirrkura in Western Australia and was unable to attend the announcement to collect the prize. However her daughter, Lisa Ward Napurrula, spoke emotionally about the win, “I think I’m very proud of my mother…I’m crying because I’m really proud of her, what she’s done with her painting. Because I’m always with her when she paints, I watch her, I learn from my mother”.
Nick Mitzevich, 2012 judge of The Alice Prize and Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia reflected, “The artist goes one step further, she doesn’t define the landscape in a pictorial manner, what she does is try to capture the essence of that place. And in this painting I think the artist does it with a very sophisticated and seductive manner and the picture continues to grow on me the more I look at it. It must be a good work.”
The painting depicts designs associated with Yunala, a rockhole and water soakage site situated among sandhills to the west of the Kiwirrkura community. In ancestral times women camped beside the rockhole digging for the edible roots of the bush banana, which is known to the local Pintupi people as yunala. Multiple linework in the painting represents both the sandhills surrounding the site as well as the yunala tubers underground.
Yukultji Napangati came to the Kiwirrkura community along with her family in 1984, making national headlines at the time as the ‘last of the desert nomads’ to ‘make contact’. It is estimated she was 14 years old at that time. Prior to this the group had been living in an area of country to the north.
Napangati began painting for Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd in 1996 and has enjoyed the support of the artists’ company throughout her career. During this time her painting style has become more defined as she has become more prolific.
In 1999 Yukultji contributed to the ‘Kiwirrkura Women’s Painting’ as part of the Western Desert Dialysis Appeal, and in 2005 she was selected as one of nine artists to exhibit at the prestigious Primavera show (an invitational non-selling exhibition for young Australian artists under thirty-five years of age) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Today her paintings are in 5 public collections across Australia and she has been exhibited in over 80 group shows nationally and internationally. She was a Highly Commended Finalist in the 2011 Wynne Prize and a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
THE 37th ALICE PRIZE is one of the country’s longest running contemporary art prizes and is open to all Australian artists. The associated exhibition of finalist continues at the Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs until 10 June 2012.