Jimmy Midjawmidjaw Crocker Island Bark Painter
Jimmy Midjawmidjawaw is one of the old school artists whose works have a flow to the limbs that has nothing to do with where the joints are. His barks have a great fluidity and lack European convention. Some of his paintings are directly related with sorcery. Sorcery, in this case, is traditional beliefs disliked by Christian missionaries. He belonged to a generation of aboriginal artists who knew their art had a direct magical effect in the real world. Jimmy Midjawmidjaw had two very distinct phases of bark painting. His early works were mainly for anthropologists and are extremely traditional. They have strong fields of color; bold outlining in white pigment and animated forms. These early works are very similar to early works by Paddy Compass Namatbara. The faces on his early bark paintings of spirits look more animal than human.
Some early bark paintings by Irrwala can look very similar to those by Jimmy.
His later works were predominantly made for sale at the mission. In later works, he retains the animated forms but incorporates cross-hatching techniques. These cross-hatching techniques are traditional to Eastern Arnhem Land. His later works have the distinctive cross-hatching across an often circular face. Many of his late works lack genitalia no doubt coming from Missionary influence.
Jimmy Midjawmidjaw did do paintings of animals including Kangaroos, turtles, snake, fish, and echidna. These animal barks are nowhere near as popular with collectors as his spirit figures. He also painted depictions of Namarrkon the Lightning spirit. I like his earlier works for the pure freedom and lack of inhibition and convention. Bark paintings by Samuel Wagbara are sometimes mistaken for the better known Jimmy Midjawmidjaw
Very little information is available on this artist. Jimmy was born in Minjilang on Crocker Island around 1897 and died in 1985. He spoke Kuninjku, language. If anyone knows more information about the life of Jimmy I would love to hear from them. I would be more than happy to add it to this article
Jimmy Midjawmidjaw Bark painting Images
The following are images are not a complete list of works by the artist but give a good idea of the style and variety of the artist.
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