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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

2002
Tim Johnson

oil and polymer vinyl paint on canvas (support: 152.5 cm x 114.8 cm)

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri AO (1933–2002) was a pioneer of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement that emerged at the Papunya settlement in Central Australia. An Anmatyerre man, he was born on Napperby Station near Alice Springs. While working as a stockman, he developed a profound knowledge of the Dreaming trails and sites that crisscross the McDonnell Ranges. His experience later informed a series of large ‘map paintings’ in which he portrayed these trails as deeds of title to his ancestral land. A retrospective in London in 1988 and his first solo exhibition – also in London – in 1990 brought him critical acclaim in Europe and North America. Toward the end of his life Tjapaltjarri was recognised as one of Australia’s great painters.

Tim Johnson frequently incorporates symbols and motifs drawn from Asian and Aboriginal cultures in his work. He first visited the Papunya settlement in the 1970s, documenting, collecting and promoting its art, and later collaborating with a number of Papunya artists, including Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Johnson’s portrait of his colleague includes symbols and scenes relating to Tjapaltjarri’s life.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2002
© Tim Johnson

Artist and subject

Tim Johnson (age 55 in 2002)

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri AO (age 69 in 2002)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Supported by

Basil P. Bressler (48 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Open Air

Portraits in the Landscape

Previous exhibition, 2008

Open Air is an exhibition of portraits of Australians in environments of particular significance to them.

Australian Visit

Previous exhibition, 2006

The exhibition will include works of art from the NPG Canberra's permanent collection with some inward loans and aims to highlight the achievements of notable Australians.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency