A Pintupi tribesman, Walala was born in the early 1960’s at Marua, to the east of Kiwirrkura in the Gibson Desert of Western Australia.
Walala arrived out of the desert with seven relatives in Kiwirrkura township in October 1984 having never seen a white man before, making worldwide headlines. Till this time, the group had been following their traditional lifestyle in the country of Lake Mackay. To this day, his home base is Kiwirrkura. He is married to a Warlpiri woman, Brigette Napangardi, and they also spend time in Yuendumu, Nyirrpi or Alice Springs.
Walala started painting by assisting his brother Warlimpirrnga, who instructed him in the use of acrylic paints and canvas. He began to paint his own works in 1986-87.
The subject of his painting is the Tingari Cycle, a series of sacred, mythological songs that are associated with his Dreaming sites. Among them are eleven sites located throughout his traditional country near Lake Mackay such as Marua, Minatarnpi, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, and including Mina Mina, a significant woman’s ceremonial site where his family used to spend time.
Up until 1996, Walala painted in the sought after, “Papunya Tula style” of painting, which consisted of roundels, abutting lines and U-shapes set against a dot filled background. It was around 1996 – 1997, that his works took on a bold new form. Abundant dots in a selection of ochres, were replaced by Rectangles and lines with a contemporary feel. His works grew in momentum by relating century old stories associated with the creation paths of his ancestors, in a manner unique and armed with contemporary vision . His seemingly simplistic style is executed with precision and an almost ethereal ambience which portrays the depth and importance of the stories his paintings portray. It is possible the stylistic change that led him to his current manner of portrayal, may have been brought about by an external influence. Possibly from the artist’s co-ordinator. At times his works are assisted by his wife with the fill-in of dots.
In March and April of 2003, Red Desert Gallery was honoured with the presence of Walala Tjapaltjarri. We commissioned many works at this time, all being of exceptional standard.
~ 1999 - Spirit Country , Fine Arts Museum of
San Francisco, California , U.S.A