Dorothy Napangardi

Dorothy Napangardi

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DOB: c.1948 - 2013
Born: Mina Mina, Tanami Desert, 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 does sometimes use colour, it tends to be only in a subtle and minimalistic manner. Her art concentrates on movement to capture the viewer. Christine Nicholls, a well-known curator and writer has stated that Dorothy Napangardi's success as an artist lies in her ability to evoke a strong sense of movement on her canvases. Nicholls explains that she achieves this effect because of her remarkable spatial sense and compositional ability.

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 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.


  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Australian National University, Canberra
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • Queensland Museum, Brisbane
  • Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany
  • The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
  • The Kaplan-Levi Collection, Seattle, USA
  • The Vroom Collection, The Netherlands
  • The Erskine Collection, NSW
  • The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
  • The Australia Council Collection, Sydney
  • South Australian Festival Centre Foundation, Adelaide
  • The Homesglen Institute of TAFE Collection, VIC
  • The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
  • The LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut, USA
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sydney
  • Owen Wagner Collection of Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
  • Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
  • The Henderson Family Collection, Sydney
  • The Luczo Family Collection, USA
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Venice
  • Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton VIC
  • Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Motiers, Switzerland
  • Artbank, Sydney

Awards and Recognition

2009 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
2008 TogArt Contemporary Art Award, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin - Finalist
2002 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
2001 18th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist and Winner
2001 Alice Art Prize, Alice Springs - Finalist
2000 17th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2000 5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra
1999 The Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney - Finalist
1999 16th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist and Highly Commended
1998 15th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
1998 Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs - Winner
1991 8th NATSIAA Darwin - Winner Museum and Art Galleries Award


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2020 The Art and life of Dorothy Napangardi - Dorothy Napangardi Retrospective Exhibition, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2020 Black & White 2020, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
2014 Dorothy Remembered, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2007 Country in Mind: Dorothy Napangardi, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2006 Karnta-kurlangu Jukurrpa, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney
2005 Dorothy Napangardi, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco
2004 Dorothy Napangardi, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney
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
2003 Dorothy Napangardi New Paintings, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2002 Dancing up Country: the art of Dorothy Napangardi, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney
2002 Kana-kurlangu, Gallery Gondwana at The Depot Gallery, Sydney
2001 Mina Mina, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2001 Dorothy Napanagardi, New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2000 Dorothy Napangardi, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
2000 Recent Paintings by Dorothy Napangardi, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
1999 Recent works by Dorothy Napangardi, Chapman Gallery, Canberra

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 Reverence, D'Lan Contemporary, Melbourne
2021 Voyage across Aboriginal Australia - Founders' Favourites, Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland
2021 Big Names Little Paintings, Cooee Art Gallery, Sydney
2020 The Women's Show, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2020 Director's Choice 2020, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 defining tradition | black + white, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Gems from the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Along the Lines, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2012 Ancestral Modern, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
2012 All Our Relations, Biennale of Sydney, MCA, Sydney
2011 Thinking outside the square, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO, MCA touring exhibition
2011 Wet Paint, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2010 Stories from the Centre, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 All is Calm, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2010 Desert Country, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
2009 Sculpture and works on paper, Fire-Works Gallery, Brisbane
2008 Black & White: Inspired by Landscapes, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydne
2008 From the Air, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2007 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney & Alice Springs
2003 Collectors Show, Gallery Gondwana at The Depot Gallery, Sydney
2002 One Mother, Dorothy Napangardi and Sabrina Nangala, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2002 Native Title Business - Contemporary Indigenous Art, National Travelling Exhibition, of the Gurang Land Council (Aboriginal Corporation), QLD
2002 Indecorous Abstraction - Contemporary Women Painters, Light Square Gallery, AIT ARTS, Adelaide
2002 Melbourne ArtFair 2002, Melbourne
2001 alice.fitzroy@af, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, Canberra
2001 Country After Rain, Framed - The Darwin Gallery, Darwin
2001 Dreamtime - The Light and the Dark, Sammlung Essl, Vienn
2001 Masterwork, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2000 Dorothy Napangardi and Walala Tjapaltjarri, Adelaide Festival, Gallery Australis, Adelaide
2000 The Art of Place Exhibition, Australian Heritage Commission, Old Parliament House, Canberra
2000 Songlines: Walala Tjapaltjarri & Dorothy Napangardi, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London
2000 Melbourne ArtFair 2000, Melbourne
2000 Transitions - 17 Years of NATSIAA, MAGNT, Darwin
1999 Treading Softly, Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1999 Painting the Desert, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, Canberra
1999 Recent works by Dorothy Napangardi and Walala Tjapaltjarri, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
1999 My Country - Journeys of our Ancestors, Ancient Earth Indigenous Art, Cairns
1998 Warlpiri Women, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
1998 Napangardi Dreaming - Ceremony and Song, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney