Mick Namerari Tjapaltjarri: Water Soakages
According to the Art Gallery of New South Wales website, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri was one of the founding artists at Papunya in 197 (making this work of art, Mick's only representation a significant one in the collection). As a boy, following the death by spearing of his father and his mother’s resulting suicide, he fled the desert, east to the safety of the Lutheran Hermannsburg Mission. Here he would have been aware of Albert Namatjira and his fellow Western Aranda landscape painters. While still a young man, Namarari worked on cattle stations and became familiar with non-Aboriginal people, such as ‘Billy the Bunyip’ MacNamara, from whom he took his (Aboriginalised) name, ‘Namarari’. These life experiences, together with the observational skill associated with his extraordinary bushmanship, prepared him for his second career as an artist.
Namarari was a quiet and relatively inconspicious character, often over-shadowed by the more showy and dominant artists at Papunya. However, he painted assiduously for than 25 years, building an ouevre that is characterised by lightness of line and subtlety of tone. While many of his peers painted according to stylised conventions, Namarari's work is distinguished by an extraordinary range of visual inventions. In his first couple of years of painting, he explored figuration, giving the same weight to his depiction of ceremonial performers as to details of the ceremonial ground paintings and associated sacred objects. During the same period the created hypotic depictions of his birthplace, Marnpi, using white pulsing lines to draw the eye into the vortex of an ancestral wind at the site. From the mid- 1970s, he occasionally explored minimal representation, focusing on one tiny aspect of the activities of an ancestor, surprisingly, he would then change resolution in the next work, describing the topography of a much larger area. Despite the apparent reserve, the breadth and scope of his inventions over such a long period make him the most consistently brilliant of the Papunya Tula artists.
The Work of Art
Water soakages is a brightly coloured work of art that was painted using acyrlics onto canvas in 1996.As the biography suggests, Mick's work differs from conventional indigenous works with the use of his colours and lines. With water soakages, the image is formed on the simple connection of three features. It is simple and effective.