Abie Jangala

Artist Story

Abie Jangala was born in the bush in the vicinity of Thompson's Rock about 350 kilometres south of Lajamanu.

After the war Jangala joined his family at Yuendemu, an Aboriginal reserve specifically created to accommodate the increasingly displaced Warlpiri population; later he was moved to a second Warlpiri settlement at Catfish, 600 kilometres to the north.

Despite these moves, at 16 years of age Jangala returned to the land of his birth to undergo his traditional initiation. Abie Jangala lived at Lajamanu in the Northern Territory since the early 1950s and was a strong and highly respected elder of this Warlpiri community. He was a man of great ritual authority, ceremonial boss for water-rain-cloud and thunder Jukurrpa (Dreamings) centred on widely dispersed sites in the Tanami Desert.

He said he painted the way his father told him to paint as “he comes to me in dreams”. His work is noted for its striking dense white dotting over a base colour and simple bold linear designs symbolising the graphic quality of the desert. The elements of thunder, lightning and rain which underpin the belief system of the nomadic Warlpiri people, resonate powerfully in a field of white dots.

Abie Jangala became a painter in 1983 and soon his work began to be exhibited in group shows in Australia, the USA and Europe. His work is represented in museum collections all over Australia and in a number of important international collections.

Subject & Themes

Ngapa – water dreaming, Frog Dreaming, rain, cloud thunder


  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide.
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
  • The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
  • The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
  • Thomas Vroom Collection, The Netherlands
  • Bromberg Collection, Cincinatti USA
  • Kaplan Levi Collection Seattle USA
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
  • Flinders University Art Museum

Individual Exhibitions

  • 1993 Abie Jangala – Boss of the Water – Rain – Clouds and Thunder Dreaming, Cooee Aboriginal Art, Sydney

Group Exhibitions

  • 1983 D'un autre continent: l'Australie le reve et reel, ARC, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, France
  • 1987 Australian Made, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
  • 1989 Lajamanu Painters, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth, WA
  • 1989 Mythscapes, Aboriginal Art of the Desert, National Gallery of Victoria
  • 1990 Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Harvard University, University of Minnesota, Lake Oswego Centre for the Arts, USA
  • 1991 Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra
  • 1991 Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia
  • 1991 Yapa, Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lajamanu, Baudoin Lebon Gallery, Paris, France
  • 1991 Museums of Modern Art, Koyoto and Tokyo, Japan
  • 1993 The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • 1995 Stories, Eine Reise zu den Dingen, touring, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Museum fur Volkerkunde Leipzig, Hausder Kulteren der Welt Berlin, Ludwig-Forum fur International Kunst Aachen
  • 1996 Abie Jangala and Artists from Lajamanu, Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery ,Sydney
  • 1996 This is my country. This is me Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
  • 1996 Nangara:The Australian Aboriginal Art Exhibition-from the Ebes Collection Sichting Sint-Jan,Brugges,Belgium
  • 1996 Abie Jangala, The Rainbow Serpent Gallery, Sydney
  • 1997 Warlpiri Rainman, Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
  • 1997 Juxtapositions: an exhibition of Australian Indigenous works rom the collection of the Flinders Art Museum, Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
  • 1999 16th NATSI Art Award MAGNT Darwin
  • 2001 Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony, The Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003 Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony, Australia's Outback Gallery, Sydney, NSW; Darwin Entertainment Centre Gallery, Darwin, NT; Alcheringa Gallery, British Columbia, Canada; Thorncrest Gallery, Southport, QLD; Damian Minton Gallery, Newcastle, NSW; Flinders University City Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
  • 2004 EXPLAINED, A closer look at Aboriginal art, Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2004 Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony, Art Mob, Tasmania; Stephanie Burns Fine Art, ACT; Japingka Gallery, Freemantle, WA; Fire-Works Gallery, QLD; Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK Fisketorvet, Copenhagen, Denmark; The Orangery at Adelsns, Sweden; Bruun's Gallerie, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 2005 Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony, Highpoint Centre for Printmaking, Minneapolis, USA; Galerie Dad, Paris, France; The Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle, USA; University of Virginia, Virginia, USA; Australian Embassy, Paris, France; Chateau de Saint Cirq, Lapopie, France
  • 2006 Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony, Booker Lowe Gallery, Houston, USA


Brody, A., Krempel, U., Bahr, E., (eds.), 1995, Stories, Eine Reise zu den grossen Dingen, exhib. cat., Landeshauptstadt Hannover Der Oberstadtdirektor Sprengel. Museum Hannover and Autoren.
Monty, S., 1990, 'Abie Jangala,” Special Double Issue Artlink 10 (1&2), 15.
Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London.
Crumlin, R., (ed.), 1991, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, Collins Dove, North Blackburn, Victoria, Glowezewski, B., 1991, Yapa,Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lajamanu, Lebon Gallery Paris Johnson, V,. 1994, The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House
NT Department of Education, 1985, Stories from Lajamanu
Ryan, J., 1989, Mythscapes Aboriginal Art of the Desert from the National Gallery of Victoria, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Ryan, J, 1990, Paint up Big, Warlpiri Women's Art of Lajamanu, National Gallery of Victoria.
Wallace, D., Desmond, M Caruana, W., 1991, Flash Pictures, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
1990, Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, exhib. cat., Heytesbury Holdings Ltd., Perth.
1993, Tjukurrpa Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia (1971 – 1993), exhib. cat., Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Brody A.M. Stories: eleven aboriginal artists.Works from The Holmes a Court Collection, Allen & Unwin 1999
McCulloch,S. Contemporary Aboriginal Art:A guide to the rebirth of an ancient culture Allen & Unwin 1999
Tribal Elders : Symbolic Dreamings. EON International Pty Ltd. 1998 Edited by Laura Murray Cree & Neville Drury: Australian Painting Now. Craftsman House, 2000

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