Born in Haasts Bluff, Maxi Jampitjinpa is part of the Warlpiri
group, his fathers traditional country is Watunuma in Warlpiri
territory and his mother is of mixed Warlpiri/Luritja descent.
These areas are near Waite Creek. In the 1960's his family
moved away from Haasts Bluff to Papunya so that the children
can attend the school there.
During the early 1970’s Maxie spent much of his time away
from Papunya. Enrolling in a health workers course in Darwin,
and working various labouring jobs provided Maxie with a broad
spectrum of experiences of main stream Australian culture.
Combined with his broad knowledge of traditional living Maxie
has much to draw upon.
In the late 1970's he moved back to Papunya, working as a
tractor driver, bus driver and police tracker, when in 1980 under
the expert instruction of Old Mick Japaltjarri he took up painting.
Old Mick passed on his passion for painting to Maxi who had a
natural ability to paint and tell the Dreamtime Stories had a
natural ability to paint and tell the Dreamtime stories through his
work. His usual subjects being the, Flying Ant Dreaming and
Woman's Dreaming as well as the Bushfire Dreaming. Other
influential artists in Maxie’s development include Eunice and
sister Pansy Napangardi, two prominent female artists.
Maxie’s first claim to fame was not particularly pleasant for this
quiet man, as his victory in the contemporary art section of the
Northern Territory Art Awards in 1984 set the stage for a bout of
controversy. Local non Aboriginal artists were disturbed by his
win, considering his art to be “folk art, not fine art”. They
considered themselves to be excluded from Aboriginal art
competitions, their argument being that the contemporary art
section of the competition was an open competition and not
culturally specific. In effect, Maxie’s ‘Happenings at Leibig’
made a major contribution to the opening up of the art scene, to
include Aboriginal art in major competitions around Australia.
Born: c.1945 -1997
Photographs and text copyright of Jinta Desert Art 1997.
In 1984 Maxi won the Northern Territory Art Award which
enhanced his reputation as one of the leading artists of the
Aboriginal Art Movement.
From the 1980’s he based himself in Alice Springs where he
developed and refined his flicked style of background infilling,
which now has many imitators, although none of them have
been able to match his expertise.
In 1991 Maxie arrived in Papunya with three canvases of his
Bushfire Dreamings. Each canvas was almost identical, his
characteristic stippled or flicked style of coloring employed to
create abstract representations of fire. Chris Hodges, Papunya
Tula’s Sydney agent, was impressed by his work and offered a
Solo exhibition, which was a great success in the following year.
Later works of Maxie’s have been compared with some works of
the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye - similarities being drawn in the
stylistic, apparently abstract areas of colour without conventional
dotting or elements of Western Desert iconography.
Numerous exhibitions have coloured his development and
contribution to the movement, exhibiting throughout Australia
and internationally since the mid 1980’s. Some examples
include: 1986 Sydney Opera House exhibition hall; 1987 ‘Central
Australian Paintings from the Holmes a Court Collection’
University of Western Australia; 1988 Expo 88’, Brisbane; 1989
‘Papunya Tula...’ John Weber Gallery New York; 1989 National
Gallery of Australia, Canberra; 1990 ‘l’ete Australien a
Montpellier’ Montpellier France; 1987, 1988, 1996 Gabrielle Pizzi
Gallery Melbourne; 1992 ‘Bushfire’ Utopia Art Sydney; 1993
‘Works on Paper Utopia Art Sydney; 1993 Art Gallery of Western
Australia; 1993 ‘Tarinoita: Contemporary Aboriginal Art’ Keravan
Taidemuseo Helsinki Finland, ‘ARATJARA’ touring:
Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen Dusseldorf, Hayward
Gallery London, Louisiana Museum, and Humleback Denmark
1993\4. Additionally 1995 ‘Stories’ touring: Sprengel Museum
Hannover, Museum fur Volkerkunde Leipzig, Haus der Kulteren
der Welt Berlin, and Ludwig-Forum fur Internationale Kunst
Aachen. 1995 Holmes a Court Collection Germany; 1996
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; 1997 ‘Dreampower,’
Adelaide; 1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University,
Photographs and text copyright of Jinta Desert Art 1997
Maxi’s work is represented by many national and
international collections, including: Artbank, Sydney; Jinta
Desert Art Gallery, Sydney; Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery,
Alice Springs; Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia,
Melbourne; The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles U.S.A; Art
Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Campbelltown City Art
Gallery, Sydney; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern
Territory; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National
Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Parliament House Art
Collection, Canberra; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; The
Holmes a Court Collection, Wagga Wagga City Art Gallery,
Federal Airports Corporation, Flinders Art Museum, Adelaide;
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.