Translator & first contemporary PNG artist
Timothy Akis (c. 1944 – 1984) is widely considered as the first contemporary Papua New Guinean artist.
His drawings emerged outside of any artistic tradition, either indigenous or western. They are utterly original, fresh, delicate and personal. In the 1960s, working as a translator, Akis made little sketches to help anthropologists with identifying plants and animals.
Brought to Port Moresby, he was encouraged to work in the studio of English-born artist Georgina Beier. In six weeks Akis produced a good number of astonishing drawings, 40 of which were exhibited in the University of Papua New Guinea Library in February 1969.
Later Akis lived in his Tsembaga Village in Madang Province but periodically came to Georgina’s studio in Port Moresby where he continued making drawings and prints. He regularly exhibited his work in the National Art School in Papua New Guinea’s capital and in a number of overseas exhibitions, including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and the Philippines and posthumously in France, Germany and Australia. Akis inspired other Papua New Guinean artists, pioneering the first generation of contemporary artists in his country.