b. 1964 -

Thomas Tjapaltjarri was a member of the well-known group of nine Pintupi people to come in from the Gibson Desert of Western Australia in 1984, never having encountered Western civilisation before. The event was world news and international headlines were filled with the discovery of the ‘Last Nomads’, ‘Lost Tribe’, or ‘group of nine’, as they became famously known.

Nowadays, Thomas Tjapaltjarri is a renowned contemporary artist representing the Western Desert art movement. His brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala have also become well-known artists; together they are sometimes referred to as the ‘Tjapaltjarri Brothers’, Thomas being the youngest of the three.

Born circa 1964 near Lake Mackay in Western Australia, Thomas began painting in 1987 at Papunya Tula Artists. The geometrical designs in his impressive paintings are based on the sacred rituals of the ‘Tingari’ (spiritual ancestors), evoking activities that took place during the time of creation referred to as ‘Tjukurrpa’. The Tingari stories provide the foundation for the tribal beliefs of the Pintupi people. Many of the stories relate to the sacred sites around the Lake Mackay region known as Maruwa. Although there are some discrepancies it is generally agreed that these stories cover an area from east to west referred to as Kakarrara and Wilurrara.

The work of Thomas Tjapaltjarri has been shown in many exhibitions around Australia, but also at oversees art shows in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland (Europe), Miami, San Francisco and New York in the United States.


Vivien Johnson, Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs 2008, p. 250;
Nigel Adam, ‘Lost tribe happy in modern world’, Herald Sun (3 February 2007);
Paul Toohey, ‘The Last Nomads’, The Bulletin (4 May 2004), pp. 28-35;
Margo Birnberg and Janusz Kreczmanski, Aboriginal Artist Dictionary of Biographies: Australian Western, Central Desert and Kimberley Region, Marleston, South Australia 2004, pp. 10-12.

Would you like to view more works by Thomas Tjapaltjarri? Feel free to contact us on (02) 9660 7799 or [email protected]

Thomas Tjapaltjarri, Tingari, 2013. Acrylic on linen, 181 x 244 cm
Thomas Tjapaltjarri, Tingari, 2013. Acrylic on linen, 181 x 244 cm
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