Dorothy Napangardi Robinson

DOB:     c.1950-56 – 2013
BORN:     Mina Mina, Tanami Desert, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP:     Warlpiri
COMMUNITY:     Nyirripi, NT

Dorothy Napangardi (c.1950-2013) was the master of movement. Her dotted representations of the landscape around her country are truly captivating and have made her one of the most well-known Australian Aboriginal artists. Dorothy had great success both in Australia and overseas, and some of her many achievements include winning the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2001, a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003 and being included in the Sydney Biennale in 2012.

Dorothy was born in the early 1950s and her country is Mina Mina, which is about 400km North West of Alice Springs. Mina Mina is the site of an important rock hole and there are many Dreaming stories associated with this country. Dorothy was one of around 3,000 Warlpiri speakers who lived in or are originally from the Tanami Desert region of Central Australia.

Whilst Dorothy had little ‘formal’ schooling, she was well versed in the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives and has a deep knowledge of her country. Her father was also a senior law-giver. Dorothy grew up ‘bush’ with no exposure to white man until her family moved to the Yuendumu settlement.

In 1987 Dorothy began painting and soon found a highly original voice and style. Her work revolves around dotted representations of the landscape around Mina Mina. They explore different and intricate representations of its salt pans and sand hills. Whilst Dorothy did sometimes use colour, it tended to be only in a subtle and minimalistic manner. Her art concentrates on movement to capture the viewer.

Dorothy has had numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and overseas. Her art is in the collections of several museums, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Linden-Musum in Stuttgart Germany, The Kelton Foundation in Santa Monica USA, The Vroom Collection in the Nertherlands and The The LeWitt Collection in Connecticut, USA.

Dorothy loved to go hunting and walking on her country. She loved to look and listen to her country and this provided the inspiration to paint. Through painting, sitting down and singing and remembering, Dorothy explained that she felt a closer connection to her country.

18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards Darwin
National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of South Australia
Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory
Queensland Museum
Linden Museum Stuttgart Germany
The Kelton Foundation Santa Monica LA USA
The Kaplan-Levi Collection Seattle USA
The Vroom Collection, the Netherlands
The Erskine Collection, NSW, Australia
The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, WA, Australia
The Australia Council Collection, Sydney, Australia
South Australian Festival Centre Foundation, Adelaide, Australia
The Homesglen Institute of TAFE Collection, Victoria, Australia
The Holmes a’ Court Collection, Perth, WA
The LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut, USA

2012 ‘Ancestral Modern’, Seattle Art Museum Seattle, USA
2012 ‘All Our Relations’, Biennale of Sydney, MCA Sydney NSW
2011 ‘Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO’ MCA touring exhibition
2007 ‘Divas of the Desert’ Gallery Gondwana Sydney & Alice Springs
2006 ‘Karnta-kurlangu Jukurrpa’, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney NSW
2005 Dorothy Napangardi Hosfelt Gallery San Francisco USA
2003 ‘Dancing Up Country; the work of Dorothy Napangardi’. Asia Tour. Asialink in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art tour to Vietnam Fine Art Museum in Hanoi and the National Art Gallery, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
2002-2003 ‘Dancing up Country: the work of Dorothy Napangardi’, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

2002 ‘Native Title Business – Contemporary Indigenous Art ‘National Travelling Exhibition, Gurang Land Council (Aboriginal Corporation), QLD
2001 ‘alice.fitzroy@af’, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, A.C.T.
2001 ‘ Dreamtime – The Light and the Dark’, Sammlung Essl, Vienna, Austria
2001 ’18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award’, Darwin NT
2000 ‘Fifth National Indigenous Heritage Art Award’, Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra ACT
2000-01 ‘The Art of Place Exhibition’, Australian Heritage Commission, Old Parliament House, Canberra ACT
2000 ‘Songlines: Walala Tjapaltjarri & Dorothy Napangardi’, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London
2000 ’17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award’, Darwin NT
1999 ‘Painting the Desert’, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, Canberra ACT
1999 ’16th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award’, Darwin NT
1999 ‘The Redlands Westpac Art Prize’, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney NSW
1998 ’15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award’, Australia
1991 ‘8th National Aboriginal Art Award’, Darwin NT

2001 First Prize, 18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Darwin Australia
1999 Highly Commended – 16th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Darwin Australia
1998 Northern Territory Art Award Alice Springs NT
1991 Best Painting in European Media – 8th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Darwin NT

2007 Country in Mind: Dorothy Napangardi – stories from mina mina & Yvonne Mills-Stanley – stories from the long paddock Fire-Works gallery Brisbane Australia (Catalogue)
2006 Dreaming Their Way – Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, National Museum of Women in the Arts. Washington, USA Published by Scarla Publishers Ltd, Northburgh House, London
2005 Imagined Worlds – Willful Invention and the Printed Image
2004 Our Country, Our Art – Welcome to the Art of Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Artists
2002 Dancing up Country – The art of Dorothy Napangardi Published by Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay Sydney Australia Bibliography