History and Culture

Art of the Western Desert

Western Desert Art has developed through a number of phases over the years which have been marked by changes in style, technique, type of imagery and even palette. The very early years from 1971 – 74 consisted of art which was very unrestrained, intense, some what raw and confined to small format, such as composition board, lino and masonite. Content was visibly figurative most of which was sacred and secret. As time progressed, larger painting surfaces (made possible by the way of the introduction of canvas and linen) facilitated the depiction of artist’s country, ancestral journeys and mythological events. 

Throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s further development continued. One noticeable feature was the increasing abstraction (yet also representational) and linear quality of various painting styles. Palette wise, however, artists preferred to maintain a fairly conservative range of colours, which consisted of the standard - black, white, yellow and red artists paint.

By 1994 a number of senior Kintore women (relatives of well known male painters) had joined the Western Desert art movement, an historic occasion for an organisation that had been governed by men for well over 20 years. The women (many of whom) brought with them their very own highly distinctive style (consisting of thickly applied paint, spontaneous designs and a broad colourful palette) which very soon contributed towards a most dynamic and innovative art movement, one which continues to dominate the field of Contemporary Aboriginal Art today.

Several well known Western Desert artists that have worked in the Gallery Gondwana Studio are Walala Tjapaltjarri and ‘Dr’ George Tjapaltjarri along with Barbara Reid and Ningura Napurrula.


If you have any specific questions about this artwork please email us at info@gallerygondwana.com.au. Be sure to include the catalogue number in your email.

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