Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was among the first group of artists who began to paint at Papunya in the Great Painting room with Geoffrey Bardon in 1971. In fact Geoffrey Bardon did not become aware of Ronnie’s presence until March 1972, partly because the young man was working under the tutelage of his uncle, one of the senior painters, Uta Uta Tjangala (c1926 – 1990). The Painting men had been working together for about a year at that time, and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa as an 18 or 19 year old was one of the youngest men in the group.
Uta Uta Tjangala was working as a gardener at the school and became good friends with Geoffrey Bardon, who gave him the first art materials that lead to the other Pintupi men joining the art group. Uta Uta Tjangala also spent much of the 1970s at an outstation west of Papunya, so both he and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa were away from the main painting group during that decade.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa finally settled first at the newly formed settlement at Kintore in 1981, and then at the homelands outstation of Ininti (Redbank). His influence as a painter developed during the 1980s as he established his style using bold linear structures representing Tingari and Water Dreaming motifs from his ancestral country. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa became closely associated with the Papunya style of large structured canvases that used just a few colours which were often placed together in colour blocks.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa remained at the forefront of Pintupi painters over three decades and his achievements in the Desert Art movement are to be measured in the high profile exhibitions and representations he has created over that time.
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