Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was born around 1943 at Tjiturrunya in the region near Munyinnga about 100km west of the Kintore Ranges in Western Australia. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’s family travelled extensively across Pintupi territory, moving throughout this region and also in the area around Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) which straddles the Western Australia – Northern Territory border. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was initiated into Aboriginal Law at Yumari, near his birthplace.
After prolonged droughts in the 1950s, Ronnie moved with his family, first to Haasts Bluff, then to Papunya. Over the years, moving between Aboriginal communities station, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa talked to many people about returning to traditional lands, a move which was made possible with the establishment of Kintore (Walungurru) in 1981. Ronnie moved there with his family in the early 1980s and has since emerged as one of Papunya Tula Artists’ major painters. Today, Ronnie remains an important influence on a new generation of painters.
Ronnie Tjampijinpa’s art is a fine representation of the characteristic Pintupi sytle: a repetition of forms, which are geometric, simple and bold, and pigments which are often restricted to the four basic colours of black, red, yellow and white, although Ronnie also experiments with other colours.
The primary imagery in Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’s work are based on the Tingari Cycle which is a secret song cycle sacred to initiated Pintupi men. The Tingari are Ancestral Beings who, in the Creation Era, travelled across the landscape performing ceremonies to create and shape the country. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’s art consistently reflects his direct ties with his culture and he can be considered amongst the first wave of artists effectively linking these ancient stories with modern mediums.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’s works first appeared in Papunya Tula exhibitions during the 1970s, then in commercial art galleries in Sydney and Melbourne throughout the 1980s.