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Makinti Napanangka, Kintore
, 2001

by Hari Ho

type C photograph (sheet: 101.5 cm x 76.0 cm, image: 73.6 cm x 58.3 cm)

Makinti Napanangka (c. 1930-2011), painter, was a leading artist of the Western Desert. A Pintupi language speaker, she was born in the Karrkurritinytja (Lake MacDonald) region on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. She and her family walked in to Haasts Bluff in the early 1940s, before the Papunya Tula artists’ cooperative was established. She began painting at Kintore in the mid-1990s, encouraged by art coordinator Marina Strocchi. By 1996, when canvas was regularly distributed to senior women at Pintupi, she was painting in earnest. Her style settled into complex, sometimes rough patterns of pale lines - evoking the Lupul rockhole, women’s body paint, spun hair string skirts and groups dancing - on orange or ochre with bursts of pink, blue-mauve and yellow. The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria both acquired their first paintings by Makinti in 1997; in 2000 she was represented in the major exhibition Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius. In 2008, she won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Her works are now held by all major Australian collecting institutions.

Hari Ho commented that his almost entirely non-verbal communication with Makinti helped achieve the ‘transparency’ that he aims for in a portrait. Ideally, for Ho, the subject is allowed to project their sense of self-awareness and individual living consciousness without the artist’s ‘imposition of any superfluous “creativity”’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2004
Accession number: 2004.7