Thomas Tjapaltjarri was born sometime around 1964 in the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. Thomas and his family which includes fellow artists Warlimpirrnga, Walala, Yukultji, Yalti and Tjakaria led a completely nomadic life until they emerged from the desert, coming to Kiwirrkurra in 1984. Dubbed "the Last Nomads" or "the Pintupi nine", they had had no contact with western society until this point. Amazingly, he transitioned from an utterly traditional lifestyle to commencing as an artist within a matter of a few years and painting the traditional stories of his people.
Leading a completely traditional existence before this time they were finally forced out of the desert to seek eligible wives for Thomas and his brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala. Three years later Thomas commenced painting for Papunya Tula artists after encouragement from Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri.
Of the original group who emerged from the desert in 1984 the nomadic streak remains strongest perhaps in Thomas. Now an established and gifted artist Thomas paints in a style similar to that of his brothers.
Thomas, along with his brothers Walala and Warlimpirringa, has exhibited widely in almost all aboriginal galleries in Australia and overseas. They include: Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney; Cooee Gallery, Sydney; Artitja Fine Art, WA; Aranda Art, Melbourne; Gallery Woo Mang, Paris; and many many more.
Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne, VIC
Similarly, Thomas' work is widely collected both in Australia and overseas.
Title: Tingari at Kanapilynga
Details: Acrylic on linen, 182 x 122 cm
Auction Price: $9,680
Auction House: Elder Fine Art, Adelaide, 24/06/2007, Lot No. 13
38 works listed from the 1970's onwards: