Johnny can recollect his first contact with Europeans, remembering his fearful response when witnessing an aircraft fly over his home lands as a young boy. His people believed the airplane to be a ‘mamu’ or devil. At a later date, his people came into contact with camels for the first time and again hid in fright as they recognized the beasts as being evil.
His painting career began after a long turn at laboring, his efforts contributing to the development of roads, airstrips and settlements in areas such as: Haasts Bluff, Mt Leibig, Yuendumu and Mt Wedge. In return for his work building roads, shoveling dirt and felling trees he was remunerated in the form of consumable goods, ‘tucker’ (as he calls it) - flour, tea, sugar, fresh vegetables and tobacco.
Geoffrey Bardon’s arrival at Papunya inspired the community to begin using art materials, Johnny rapidly developed a distinctive style of his own which came to be known as ‘overdotting’. He uses several layers of dots to depict his dreamings, which consist of Water, Fire, Yam and Egret stories. Also stories from Nyilppi and Nyalpilala - which are his father’s Dreamings. Geoffrey Bardon labelled this stylistic layering effect as ‘tremulous illusion’ and in his book, Papunya Tula Art of the Western Desert, Bardon fondly recollects images of Johnny painting with an intense level of intuitive concentration.
His final years were spent at Papunya with his wife Gladys Napanangka and his eight children. Johnny’s failing eyesight worsened considerably in the last stages of life, steadily reducing his artistic output. Johnny died on the 12th of February 2001, and will be sadly missed by all who knew him and admired his art. "( www.jintaart.com.au )