Exhibition News

Exhibition of 'Spirit Country – Pays des Esprits', in Paris, 2006.

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Published Tuesday, 6 June 2006

In order to celebrate the opening of the new Musée du Quai Branly, Mary Durack is presenting a landmark exhibition of works from some of Northern Australia’s most significant and respected artists including - Bardayal "Lofty" Nadjamerrek, Kalarriiya "Jimmy" Namarnyilk, Namiyal Bopirri, and Jean Baptiste Apuatimi.

The exhibition opens on 15 June at Galerie l’ARTicle (41, rue Volta 75003 Paris) and runs until 26 June.

Using figurative and abstract representation, these artists draw inspiration from the human, natural and supernatural worlds in order to create exceptional works rarely available outside of Australia.

Born in 1926 Bardayal "Lofty" Nadjamerrek has had an intimate connection to the rock art of western Arnhem Land where many of his paintings survive today. He is one of the foremost exponents of the x-ray style of paintings of the region. His paintings on bark and paper have toured nationally and internationally and are held in almost every major public collection in Australia. In 1999 he was awarded the major prize for a work on paper at the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and in 2004 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his outstanding contribution to Indigenous art and culture.

From the same area, Kalarriiya "Jimmy" Namarnyilk, his cousin, depicts significant ceremonies along with spirit figures responsible for the ceremonies and law. His works radiate a refined elegance and compelling energy that is unique amongst stone country artists. Despite contracting leprosy as a young man, he led a busy life traveling, hunting, fishing and attending major ceremonies throughout western Arnhem Land resulting in an encyclopaedic and intimate knowledge of the land and laws. He is esteemed throughout the area as a ritual specialist, lawman and singer.

One of central Arnhem Land’s most important female artists, Namiyal Bopirri learnt to paint by assisting her husband, a respected bark painter and ritual singer and dancer. Growing in confidence, Namiyal developed her own expressionist style, moving away from the rigid and formal images preferred by her husband. Drawing inspiration from her traditional country, a narrow peninsula of rocky salt-water country east of Ramingining (east of Darwin), her paintings often relate to elements of the Wagilag Sisters story, one of the most important Creation stories of the region. Her vibrant, energetic works have captured the attention of curators and collectors around the world and her work is now held in every major public collection in Australia, as well as important collections overseas.

Namiyal Bopirri - Wak wak ga badarru Jean Baptiste Apuatimi - Kulama

Jean Baptiste Apuatimi is one of the most senior female artists from the Tiwi Islands, just north of Darwin. The Tiwi Islands have a rich history of artistic practice and innovation. The result of isolation is evident in several cultural differences and a number of unique art forms, particularly in sculpture. The pictorial art of the Tiwi is largely esoteric and non figurative. A wide variety of geometric designs are used and there is a large degree of invention so that interpretations rest very much with the individual artists. Jean Baptiste was taught to create designs associated with important ceremonies and narrative by her late husband Declan Apuatimi, famous in his life-time as a wood carver and painter.

For more information, visit the website.

Mary Durack, 3 June 2006, Paris.

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