tommy watson

Yannima Tommy Watson

Yannima Tommy Watson is a senior Pitjantjatjara artist who was born circa 1930s some 44km west of the tiny isolated community of Irrunytju in Australia’s central western desert.

He began painting in 2002 following the establishment of the community arts centre at Irrunytju in 2001, of which Watson was a founding member, and has since then sprung to prominence both nationally and internationally.

In this harsh and ancient country, through the guidance of his father, Watson gained a deep understanding of his physical environment and its relationship with the ancestral stories, collectively known as Tjukurrpa, which have come to form the central element of his paintings.

“My grandfather’s country, grandmother’s country. When they were alive, they would take me around the country, when I was a kid. That dreamtime country. That’s why we look after the country, go out whenever we can, see if the rock-holes are good.”

I want to paint these stories so that others can learn and understand about our culture and country.

Strong vibrant colours such as oranges, burgundy, reds, ivory, blue, pinks (and more recently highlights of green) create unfettered, sumptuous and complex compositions that symbolically represent the stories embedded in his country. The large shimmering dots that surge in waves across the canvas enable one to view the landscape as a topography shaped by its cultural importance.

He is represented commercially by Agathon Galleries.

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