NAPURRULA. Mitjili (c.1945-), Pintupi painter, is one of a small group of artists who were promoted through the Ikuntji Art Centre at Haasts Bluff from 1992 until 1999. Some of her first paintings were derivative of the Papunya dot paintings which she observed as a young woman. However she gained wide recognition for very different work in exhibitions, awards, and commissions in the late 1990s.
Mitjili was born at Haasts Bluff, half-sister to Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula and daughter of Tjunkayi Napaltjarri and Tupa Tjakamarra. She married Long Tom Tjapanangka at Papunya in the 1960s. They later lived at Haasts Bluff and she developed a distinctively individual painting style. Mitjili experimented with rich decorative colours, portraying bush flowers and nulla nullas, combining dots with solid areas of colour and line. Gradually her imagery became more and simplified and refined, reflective of her country but unlike the work of her peers.
The Watiya Tjuta became her most recognised painting subject – wiry generic tree forms in arresting colours inspired by her father’s country at Uwalki in the Gibson Desert south of Kintore. In 1999 she won the Alice Prize and was selected to appear in ‘Beyond the Pale’ (AGSA 2000). Her work is held in public and private collections in Australia and overseas including the NGA, NGV, MAGNT and Artbank, Sydney. Mitjili was listed in Australian Art Collector’s Top 50 Most Collectable Artists list.
She passed away in April 2019.