Thomas Tjapaltjarri was born around 1964 in the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. Thomas and his family, which includes fellow artists Walimpirrnga, Walala, Yukultji, Yalti and Tjakaria, led a completely nomadic life until they emerged from the desert, coming to Kiwirrkurra in 1984. The event of the family coming in from the desert was a momentous one. They had remained isolated from relatives who had left their desert homelands twenty years earlier. The family group had roamed between waterholes around Lake Mackay, along the border country between Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The family group consisted of four brothers, three sisters and two mothers. The boys and girls were all in their early-to-late teens, although their exact ages were not known; the mothers were in their late 30s. After making contact and establishing their relationships, the Pintupi nine were invited to come and live at Kiwirrkura. The Pintupi-speaking trackers told them there was plenty of food, and water that came out of pipes. Yardi has said that this concept astounded them.
Three of the brothers – Walimpirrnga, Walala, and Tamlik (now known as ‘Thomas’) went on to gain international recognition in the Aboriginal art world. Thomas paints simple, geometric designs and uses a dotting technique shared with other Pintupi artists such as his brothers, Warlimpirrnga and Walala, and with George Ward Tjungurrayi. Thomas’s works generally explore the stories of the Tingari cycle.
Japingka Gallery has exhibited the work of Thomas Tjapaltjarri over many years including the exhibitions:
2013 Landmarks and Law Grounds: Men of the Desert
2011 Tjapaltjarri Brothers
2004 Travels of the Tingari – New Pintupi Works
2003 Pintupi – Major Works from the Western Desert
A selection of paintings by Thomas Tjapaltjarri is available from Japingka Gallery, where collectors can buy Aboriginal art online with certainty of quality, authenticity and provenance of art works.