Born at Tjiturrunya west of Kintore Ranges in Western Australia, Ronnie was initiated into manhood in Winparku, near Lake Mackay. He lived a traditional, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle at Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), a vast salt lake in the Gibson Desert, as a child and after prolonged droughts in the 1950s, he and his family moved, first to Haasts Bluff, then to Papunya. His life during the 1970s and 80s consisted of travelling throughout the north-western desert area, between Yuendumu and Papunya, whilst working as a fencer and labourer.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa commenced painting in about 1975 after he observed the Papunya movement. Since moving to Walungurru, in the early 1980s, he has emerged as one of Papunya Tula’s major artists.
His artistic career was boosted by a 1988 win of the Alice Prize, and he exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas during the 1990s. A long time member of Papunya Tula Artists Pty. Ltd, he has also been chair of the company and freelanced with a number of private dealers and galleries.
Ronnie’s art is a good representation of the characteristic Pintupi style: repetition of forms, which are geometric, simple and bold, and pigments which are often restricted to four basic colours of black, red, yellow and white. But Ronnie experiments with other colours as well.
His career has been long and fruitful; Ronnie is one of the principal portrayers of the iconography of the ancient Tingari story in a contemporary medium. He has developed his depiction of this subject into a highly individual and recognisable style.
1982 Brisbane Festival, Brisbane; 1992 Aboriginal Artists Agency, Sydney; 1983 Mori Gallery, Sydney; 1986 Galerie Dusseldorf, Perth; 1986 Aboriginal Arts Australia, Canberra; 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1996 Gallery Gabriella Pizzi, Melbourne; 1988 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; 1988 Expo88, Brisbane; 1991, 1993, Chapman Gallery, Canberra; 1991 Australian National Gallery, Canberra; 1991 Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, U.S.A.; 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; 1992 Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat; 1993 Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney; 1993 Art Museum, Armidale, N.S.W.; 1993 Art Gallery of W.A., Perth; 1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; 1994 Utopia Gallery, Sydney; 1994 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Milan and Palermo, Italy; 1994 Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany; 1995 Alcaston Gallery , Melbourne, 1998 Jinta Gallery, Sydney; 1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide; 1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington, U.S.A.; 1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.; 2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne; 2001, 2003 Chapel off Chapel Gallery, Melbourne.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria; Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; Robert Holmes a Court; Medibank Private Collection; Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Artbank; Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide; Donald Khan, U.S.A.; Richard Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.; Musee National des Arts Africains et Oceaniens, Paris, France; Groninger Museum, The Netherlands.