Jean Baptiste Apuatimi1940 - 2013 Pupuni Jilamara (Good body painting) 2010
- ochre on paper
For Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, painting is a way of remembering her late husband and mentor Declan Karrilikiya Apuatimi who, in teaching her to carve and paint, passed on his personal jilamara (design), which survives but is dramatically re-interpreted in her work. The source of the artist's vigorous carving style, figurative iconography, spontaneously painted designs of pwanga amintiya marlipinyini (dots and lines) and bright ochre palette undoubtedly lies in Declan's inspirational oeuvre, much of which was produced collaboratively with her, if largely unacknowledged. But once she focused on painting in her own name, Jean Baptiste immersed herself in making art and gradually forged a radical individual style recognisable for its gestural verve, audacious jilamara and oscillation between figuration and conceptual abstraction. Jikapayinga, the cheeky female crocodile who lives in a waterlily place, is schematised by a plethora of freely painted, different sized squares floating on a black ground, whereas Yirrikapayi, a man who transformed into a crocodile after he had been speared, is represented by multiple conjoined crosshatched and dotted squares and triangles, a flattened version of the textured grid of squares used by Declan to indicate crocodile skin in his carvings.These works rich in the rhythmical patterning of Tiwi jilamara, which is used to disguise the bodies of Pukumani participants from mapurtiti (malevolent spirits of the dead) are characterised by a reduction of the figure to the grid. Jean, however, expresses her cultural activism by depicting important ritual objects encoded with meaning on black, sepia or red ochre grounds.'
Source: Judith Ryan, First Indigenous Art Triennial: Culture Warriors, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2007 (online catalogue article)