Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson Pitjantjatjara, 1935-2017

Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson is considered one of the greats of the Western Desert contemporary movement. Watson painted his country in a vast array of colours, becoming renowned for his tonal red and oranges works, unlike anything that had been seen prior. 

Watson was born around 1935, around Wingellina. Throughout his youth, Watson and his family fulfilled their role as custodians of the Pitjantjatjara nation. While growing up, Watson learned to understand the significance of social organisation and learned the cultural law from his elders. Now, he has fulfilled his role as a living archive of the knowledge of his Country while travelling across the Pitjantjatjara lands to fulfil his role as an elder.


Watson started painting in 2001 and was one of the founding artists of the Irrunytju Art Centre.  Watson does not divulge the meanings of his paintings other than titling them, and providing brief words about the stories. He developed his loose and relaxed style very early in his career. Watson covers the canvas with multi-coloured uneven dots; occasionally working over an existing colour to create a dimensional effect.