Dorothy Napangardi


Dorothy Napangardi Biography


Dorothy Napangardi was a Warlpiri woman from Mina Mina, a significant sacred site in a remote area of the Northern Territory of Australia. She resided in Alice Springs where she painted full time in her own studio. Dorothy’s paintings are highly sought after by both curators and collectors alike. Her works have featured in exhibitions throughout Australia, the U.S.A. and Europe where she was justly regarded as one of the leading artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement.

She painted a major women’s ceremonial site known as Mina Mina, the artist’s custodial country, located near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. During the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) Ancestral women of the Napangardi and Napanangka sub-section groups (aunt / niece relationship, in which knowledge is passed from one to the other) gathered to collect ceremonial digging sticks (karlangu) which had emerged from the ground.  They then proceeded east, performing rituals of song and dance, to the place known as Jankinyi. A large belt of trees (Casuarina Decaisneana) now stand where these digging sticks once were.

Napangardi painted in her country, Mina Mina, without any traditional iconography from her familial lines, having created her own innovative language to describe her homelands. Dorothy’s paintings were created by an intricate network of lines that collide and implode on top of each other that created a play of tension and expansion, transporting the viewer through a myriad of intersections. Her view was constantly changing: one painting giving an aerial perspective; the next as if she had placed a microscope to the ground.

The artist had established a style of painting that had won her acclaim as a fine artist of distinction, locating her in a genre of cutting edge Aboriginal artists. In 1991 Napangardi won Best Painting in European Media, 8th National Aboriginal Art Award; in 1998 she won the Northern Territory Art Award; and in 2001 she won the prestigious 18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. In December 2002 a major survey of Dorothy’s paintings dating from the early 1990‘s to the present was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney