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Meet The Master Bark Painter From Maningrida

Art

Born in 1952 at Kubukkan near Marrkolidjban in Western Arnhem Land, John Mawurndjul is heralded as ‘one of Australia’s greatest living artists’. Yet that acclaim reaches outside national borders, and he is famed internationally for his trailblazing approach to bark painting and his signature of detailed rarrk (finely painted cross-hatching).

Presented as part of TARNANTHI, a festival that acts as a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country to share important stories, the first major survey of John’s essential work will open at the Art Gallery of South Australia next week.

 

26th October, 2018

Master bark painter John Mawurndjul. Photo – Tristan Derátz.

John’s artworks: Ngalyod, 2012, earth pigments on stringybark 182.5×76.5x10cm; Female Lightning Spirit, 1984, earth pigments on Stringybark, 54×37.5×2.0cm; Namanjwarre, saltwater crocodile, 1988, earth pigments on stringybark 206x85cm, which won the Maude Vizard Wholohan Art Prize Purchase Award 1988. Photos – Jessica Maurer, Andrew Curtis.

 

The exhibition John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, (installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia), which will open this weekend at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Photo – Jessica Maurer.

Mardayin at Dilebang, 2009, earth pigments on stringybark 147×71.5x2cm; Mimih Spirit, c.2000, earth pigments on wood, 87x20x20cm; Ancestral bones and Ngandarrayo, 2018 earth pigments on stringybark 153×60.5x1cm. Photo – Jessica Maurer and Robert Frith.

The exhibition John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, (installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia), which will open this weekend at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Photo – Jessica Maurer.

Elle Murrell
Friday 26th October 2018

‘I have two ways. I am the old and the new.’ – John Mawurndjul.

‘The old ways of doing things have changed into the new ways. The new generation does things differently. But me, I have two ways. I am the old and the new,’ says artist John Mawurndjul.

John’s artworks tell the stories of his Kuninjku culture, and often depict djang (sacred sites) around his home. There are also references to the animals and spirits that inhabit these places, such as female water spirits (yawkyawk), rainbow serpents (ngalyod) and mimih spirits.

In addition to inspiration, John also turns to his surroundings for materials – stringybark is his canvas; while white clay and yellow and red ochres the paint; and sedge grass forms paintbrushes, or manyilk.

John will exhibit John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new  at Adelaide’s Art Gallery of South Australia. The first major survey of John’s work in Australia, the showcase draws from an art practice spanning over four decades. Presented in both Kuninjku and English languages, it features 160 paintings and sculptures. The exhibition has been curated by John in a collaboration with the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and is, as writer Hetti Perkins describes, ‘a self-portrait … the embodiment of the contemporary spirit of an old soul’.

To coincide with this event, John will join a special Panpa Panpalya (panel discussion) alongside curators Clothilde Bullen, Natasha Bullock, Nici Cumpston, Lisa Slade and Keith Munro.

John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
Galleries 23, 24 & 25
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

Panpa Panpalya
Friday, October 26th, 11am-12pm
TARNANTHI Tent, courtyard.
Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace, Adelaide

TARNANTHI Art Fair
Friday October 26th – Sunday 28th
Friday, 5pm-8pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am-4pm
TANDANYA
253 Grenfell Street
Adelaide, South Australia

Find out more information at Tarnanthi.com.au./events.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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