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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Tjamu Tjamu

Photo: iocolor, Seattle

Tjamu Tjamu


Jackie Kurltjunyintja Giles

Australian Aboriginal, Ngaanyatjarra people, Patjarr, Southwestern Deserts, Western Australia, ca. 1944 - 2010

This vivid assault of circles opens a threshold to other worlds. The title, Tjamu Tjamu, is based on a morality tale of a rebellious kangaroo ancestor who wanted to marry his female relatives and thereby break kinship systems. The women resisted his advances and addressed him as Tjamu Tjamu, meaning "grandfather/grandson." Their boldness is matched by the repeating circles that have an almost mesmerizing incantatory power.

--Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, 2015
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
59 13/16 x 83 7/8 in. (152 x 213cm)
Gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan
Provenance: [Aboriginal & Pacific Art, Sydney, Australia]; Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, Seattle, Washington, 2005
Photo: iocolor, Seattle
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection, May 31 - Sept. 12, 2012 (Nashville, Tenessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, June 23 - Oct. 15, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Jan. 26 - Apr. 22, 2018; Austin, Texas, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, June 3 - Sept. 9, 2018; Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Audain Art Museum, Oct. 5, 2018 - Jan. 28, 2019). Text by Pamela McClusky, Wally Caruana, Lisa Graziose Corrin, and Stephen Gilchrist. Cat. no. 9, pp. 70-71, reproduced.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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