Maxie Tjampitjinpa

(Australia circa 1945 – 1997)

Papunya, Central Desert region, Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Central Desert region
Language group
Warlpiri, Central Desert region


Not on display
Further information

Maxie Tjampitjinpa was born in Ikuntji (Hasst Bluff) in the Northern Territory and moved to the government established settlement of Papunya in the 1960’s. In the 1980s he was taught to paint by Mick Tjakamarra, who was a founding member of Papunya Tula Artists.

This painting depicts the great bush fire that was ignited by Lungkata, the blue-tongued lizard man. Lungkata was resting at the site of Warlugulong waiting for his two sons who were following behind him. The sons had speared a kangaroo, but they cooked and ate it all, breaking customary lore of sharing food in the appropriate manner. Lungkata sensed what had happened and in fury he blew on a fire stick until it was glowing and touched a bush with it. The bush exploded and created angry flames that flickered across country like a lizard’s tongue. The two sons couldn’t escape the angry flames and became subject to a fiery death. Tjampitjinpa illustrates the intense and vibrant fire-field. Flaming bushes are burnt to white ash on the red ground, alongside black, charred remnants of flora. A painting full of movement and colour that tells a morbid story of punishment.

Place of origin
Papunya, Northern Territory, Australia
acrylic on polyester canvas
184.0 x 256.0 cm
Gift of Christopher Hodges and Helen Eager 2018. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
© Estate of Maxie Tjampitjinpa. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd