The place that has best introduced me to the difficult world of Arnhem barks is Annandale Galleries in Sydney. At first it was the increasing abstraction of Maningrida, forthcoming (16 April) it’s the refreshed world of Yirrkala where, despite the intrusion of the mines at Gove which their fathers and grandfathers resisted, young Yolngu are painting up storm after storm – literally in some cases. For the infinite variety of the waters is invariably the intrinsic subject-matter of their paintings.
Wanyubi Marika is Yolngu aristocracy; descended from Milirrpum and related to Wandjuk, Mawalan and Banduk Marika, Wanyubi also has Gawirrin Gumana’s blood line from his mother. With his own father dying young, it was perhaps inevitable that he would become a youthful elder, Mayor of Yirrkala and founder of the Yirrkala Rangers, physically protecting thousands of kilometres of their inheritance as they protect them spiritually by painting them.
Wanybi’s works, in which he crystallizes the waters off Yalangbara by giving eternal existence to the hole created in the water in the millisecond after the withdrawal of the ancestral paddle stroke, are at the heart of this show. But other Young Guns are also revealing new and individual takes on the eternal verities of Yolngu life – Dhurrumuwuy Marika’s sea of waves representing the hunter’s sweat of fear and exertion in the waters out towards Bremer Island; Yilpirr Wanambi showing another side of the harsh tropics by painting the tangy blood in a mosquito’s gut, stinking after a midnight attack!
This important Annandale Galleries show runs until 10 May.
Artist: wanyubi marika, gawirrin gumana, dhurrumuwuy marika, yilpirr wanambi
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Gallery: Annandale Galleries ,