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Inyuwa Nampitjin

AKA Nampitjinpa

136 Career Overall Rank

- 2016 Market Rank

  • Born: 1922 - 1999

  • Region: Western Desert, NT
  • Community: Kintore, Kintore
  • Outstation: Tjukula

Johnson, Vivien. 2008. Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists. IAD Press.

While Inyuwa Nampitjin reputedly painted for five years, no works are recorded as having been offered for sale through auction other than those created between 1997 and 1999 and all were produced for Papunya Tula. No less than eight of the artists top 20 results have been for works exhibited originally through Gabrielle Pizzi Gallery in Melbourne, where her only solo exhibition was in progress at the time for her death.

Surprisingly the artist’s two highest results and at least four of her top ten were recorded by Lawson~Menzies. This is unusual for a Pintupi artist given Sotheby’s interest in Papunya Tula provenance and the rarity of Inyuwa’s works. Her $43,200 record set in November 2007 justified its $45,000-60,000 presale estimate (Lot 14). The work, Rockhole at Pukunya 1998, achieved well over twice that of her next highest result. Women’s Site at Pukunya 1998 was exactly the same size and an equally pleasing work yet saddled with a far more conservative estimate of $15,000-20,000. It had sold for just $16,800 when offered three years earlier in Lawson~Menzies November 2004 sale (Lot 81). Perhaps the specialists had been influenced by the fact that the very same painting, under the title Pukunya 1998, had been offered at auction with sister company Deutscher~Menzies in June 2000 (Lot 35) and had sold for just $7,637 when carrying an estimate of just $7,000-8,500.

Presale estimates can be vitally important in achieving a successful sale and heightened expectations often result in failure. When the small 91 x 61 cm work Pukunya 1999 first appeared for sale at Sotheby’s in June 2002 it was valued at $5,000-8,000 and failed to attract a buyer (Lot 195). More realistically estimated at $2,500-3,500 three years later in Sotheby’s November 2005 sale the painting went for $3,120 (Lot 181).

The earliest work by the artist to appear at auction has shared a similar fate albeit in reverse. The collector who purchased the 91.5 x 61 cm Pukunya 1997 for just $1,762 at Deutscher~Menzies in June 2000 (Lot 139) must have felt they had got a real bargain, especially as they watched the artist’s prices rising over the following seven years. The work was consigned to Sotheby’s for sale in October 2008 with a new title Women's Dreaming at Punkilpirri and the estimate increased from $1,500-1,800 to $6,000-8,000. While this unremarkable work failed to attract a buyer, it is one of only three failures out of 16 works by Inyuwa at auction since 2003.

 Sotheby’ s have sold eight works for a total of $43,920 while all four of those offered by Lawson~Menzies are recorded in her top 10 results with a combined value of $77,400. Only Christie's, Deutsher~Menzies and Joel Fine art are included amongst the other houses that have offered her works for sale. It is unlikely that Inyuwa Nampitjinpa produced any more than 100 works during the short period she painted. This explains the complete absence of works for auction in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Yet her influence on those women who followed in her footsteps was profound. Her paintings are both rare and undervalued. More than any others, Inyuwa’s paintings along with those of her daughter Pirrmangka, can be seen as a lively precursor to the paintings of the desert artists further to the west that would emerge shortly after their own deaths. Their paintings have a raw painterly quality that is hard to overlook and entirely satisfying to live with.  

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Womens Site at Pukunya, 1998

Womens Site at Pukunya, 1998
Sold by Lawson~Menzies, Sydney on 23/11/2004 for $16,800.00
Size: 122 x 152 cm

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Pukanya, 1998

Pukanya, 1998
Sold by Lawson~Menzies, Sydney on 22/11/2006 for $9,000.00
Size: 91 x 61 cm

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Rockhole at Pukunya 1998

Rockhole at Pukunya 1998
Sold by Lawson~Menzies, Sydney on 14/11/2007 for $43,200.00
Size: 152 x 121 cm

Inyuwa Nampitjinpa was born near Punkilpirri, a large permanent water site deep in Pintupi country, west of the Kintore ranges. With her family, she arrived in Haasts Bluff in 1956, seeking food and water, and was later moved to the new government settlement at Papunya. Following the death of her first husband, she married Tutuma Tjapangati, one of the senior members of Geoff Bardon’s original painting group in 1971. It was not until almost a decade after his death that she began painting herself, encouraged in part by the women’s painting project of the new Haasts Bluff and Kintore communities in 1994. By then a senior law woman, Inyuwa took on an instructive role in the representation of women’s ceremonial subject matter, much as the elder men had during the early days of Papunya. After an eye operation to remove cataracts in 1997, she began a prolific burst of painting and although she died only two years later, she had produced a steady stream of culturally important and aesthetically innovative works between 1997 and 1999, which proved to be formative in establishing the ‘meteoric rise’ of the Desert women artists post 2000.

Inyuwa’s artistic output focused on the sacred water holes of her traditional country and creation stories relating the travels of groups of women who gathered for ceremony and sustenance at these sites. They included the old woman Kutungka Napanangka who traveled from Papunga, and passed through a number of important sites along the way to the large permanent water site of Muruntji, south-west of the current community of Mount Liebig. Other stories pertain to the travels of large groups of women who gathered the edible berries and seeds growing in the area through which they passed.

In the majority of her works, paint is applied in a thick impasto background upon which roundels or U shapes, of graduating density, are embedded. The generous viscosity of the painting surface is said to mimic the manner in which body paint is applied during women’s ceremonies. References to the rock holes, food collected, and tools used are depicted; such as the edible seeds that were roasted and ground into a paste, then cooked in the coals like damper bread and the oblong shaped nulla nullas which each woman carried. In her loose and energetic compositions, Inyuwa abstracts the basic symbolic elements of her cultural iconography, leaving her free to experiment with simple colour and uncomplicated forms in the evocation of a tactile, experiential event. Like others among this group of senior women painters, Inyuwa’s paintings were startlingly different from the increasingly formal, line and circle compositions of her male peers of that time (late 1990’s). The exuberance and freedom expressed in the women’s work defied the public's expectations of desert painting, opening up the possibilities of its artistic horizons in many ways.

Inyuwa painted for Papunya Tula Artists for just five years prior to her death playing a vital role in the emergence of contemporary women's art amongst the Pintupi. From the late 1990’s onward women became an increasingly significant presence in the art movement, outnumbering male artists in some communities and injecting new energy into the fickle art market. Alongside the excitement generated by the work itself, the advanced age of many of the female painters and often the consequent brevity of their painting careers, highlighted the power of the ancient practices and beliefs that form the bedrock of their indefatigable creativity. Inyuwa was a ceremonial and community leader in Kintore where she was also the gentle and unassuming matriarch of a large extended family. She guided her daughter Walangkura and adopted daughter Pirrmangka Napanangka in their own artistic careers and painted until her death from ill health in June 1999, at which time her first solo show was on the walls of the Gabrielle Pizzi Gallery in Melbourne, a legacy left, as she wished, to inspire and inform future generations.

Profile References

Johnson, Vivien. 2008. Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists. Australia. IAD Press.
Perkins, H & Fink, H. 2000. Papunya Tula, Genesis and Genius. Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Untitled

Untitled
Sold by Christie's , Melbourne on 30/08/2005 for $5,975.00
Size: 60.5 x 91.5 cm

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Pukanya 1988

Pukanya 1988
Sold by Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne on 27/06/2000 for $7,637.00
Size: 153 x 122 cm

Inyuwa Nampitjin - Travels of an Old Woman Kutungka Napanangka

Travels of an Old Woman Kutungka Napanangka
Sold by Lawson~Menzies, Sydney on 23/11/2004 for $8,400.00
Size: 91 x 61 cm

Sites

Lake Mackay, Mount Leibg, Umari, Tjukula, Pinari

Subjects

Bush Food , Tingari , Bush Berry, Seed , Water

Medium

Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen and Canvas

Regional Map

Note: This map is a representation and not accurate. Some sites are sacred and therefore not shown.

Market Performance

Career Totals

AIAM100 Rank
136
AIAM100 Rating
1.2543
Sold/Offered
20/31
Clearance Rate
65%
Average Price
$8,310
Total Price
$166,201
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0.1371 0.0548 0.0600 0.1807 0.3444 0.2855 0.0949 0.3156 0.0605 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
2/2 1/2 1/4 2/2 3/3 4/4 1/2 2/2 1/2 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/1 1/1 0/1 1/1 1/3
$4,700 $3,000 $3,600 $8,160 $13,180 $5,094 $9,000 $24,900 $3,660 $0 $0 $0 $0 $9,150 $0 $1,037 $1,320
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 - 2016

Top 10 Artworks Sold at Auction

1

Rockhole at Pukunya 1998

sale price: $43,200.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 14 date: 14/11/2007
152 x 121 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
2

Womens Site at Pukunya, 1998

sale price: $16,800.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 81 date: 23/11/2004
122 x 152 cm Natural earth pigments on canvas
3

Untitled

sale price: $14,340.00
auction: Christie's , Sydney  lot: 65 date: 12/10/2004
91 x 91.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
4

Untitled 1999

sale price: $13,200.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Sydney  lot: 277 date: 29/07/2003
91 x 91 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
5

Pukanya, 1998

sale price: $9,000.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 57 date: 22/11/2006
91 x 61 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
6

Travels of an Old Woman Kutungka Napanangka

sale price: $8,400.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 306 date: 23/11/2004
91 x 61 cm Natural earth pigments on canvas
7

Pukanya 1988

sale price: $7,637.00
auction: Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne  lot: 35 date: 27/06/2000
153 x 122 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
8

Pukanya 1998

sale price: $6,600.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 103 date: 24/07/2007
91 x 61 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
9

Travels of a Tingari Woman to Pinari 1998

sale price: $6,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 327 date: 15/11/2005
91 x 91 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
10

Untitled

sale price: $5,975.00
auction: Christie's , Melbourne  lot: 18 date: 30/08/2005
60.5 x 91.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

Available Artworks

Sorry There are currently no artworks available for this artist.