Eric Kumunja Tjapaltjarri


(b. 1983, AUSTRALIA)


Eric Kumunja, belongs to the Pintupi tribe and speaks Pintupi of Kintore in central and western desert; he is the grandson of the late famous Benny Tjapaltjarri. Benny was a renowned Aboriginal artist and traditional keeper of the sacred site Pinpirnga. He painted at Papunya Tula from the early 1970”s, however most of his works were produced in the early 1980’s. Benny passed down his Dreaming Stories and taught his painting techniques to his grandson Eric. The importance of these stories and techniques makes Eric’s work rich in traditional meaning and depth.


The painting depicts the story of the Honey Ants. The ants store nectar in their distended abdomens, and are dug from underground chambers. In many desert areas Honey Ants are a special traditional food due to their sugary contents. The concentric circle represents one of the Honey Ant Dreaming sites and the U shapes depict seated women with their digging sticks searching for the Honey Ants.


Eric’s style is an excellent example of the multivalent nature present in Aboriginal art; meaning the designs used in the paintings, often have many interrelated and symbolic meanings. The surface narrative elements or the paintings’ “Story” or “Dreaming” are one of the many layers of an Aboriginal painting’s meaning. The Imagery utilized by Aboriginal artists has deep cultural resonances, which defy logic and narrative interpretations. The western viewer can however, intuitively feel the power of the spiritual resonance without necessarily having to understand the details which are known by the initiated.



Learnt from Benny Tjapaltjarri.

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