In the mid-1970s, after several decades of forced assimilation in government or missionary settlements, many Indigenous Australians returned to live in small, single-family communities in what would become known as the Homelands Movement. Many of these “outstations” have become epicenters for contemporary art. Located in one of the most remote reaches of the Western Desert, Kanpi is home to about 100 people of the Pitjantjatjara language group. From this small population a striking number of major artists have emerged, many belonging to the extended Baker family. The Pitjantjatjara were some of the last desert people to begin painting for the art market. Many Pitjantjatjara expressed concern about the revelation of secret and sacred designs that occurred in early desert paintings. As the painting movement spread and strategies for concealing or encrypting sacred elements became more established, more Pitjantjatjara men and women took up painting. Although not immediate family—Maringka and Maureen Baker both joined the extended Baker family by marriage—both artists share the sumptuous palette and rolling contours that characterize contemporary painting at Kanpi.
From the 2019 exhibition A World of Relations, guest curated by Henry Skerritt, Mellon Curator of Indigenous Arts of Australia at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
Studio Art 25.01, Painting I, Enrico Riley, Winter 2023
A World of Relations, Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26-September 8, 2019.
Marshall Arts, Hyde Park, South Australia, Australia; sold to Will Owen (1952-2015) and Harvey Wagner (1931-2017), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, April 18, 2013; given to present collection, 2016.
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