John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
26 October 2018 - 28 January 2019
Presented as part of TARNANTHI

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.

– John Mawurndjul

John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new is Australia’s long-awaited, first major survey of the work of an artist regarded as the nation’s leading contemporary bark painter.

John Mawurndjul has been described as ‘one of Australia’s greatest artists of all time’. Through his prolific career, innovative approach and fusion of the traditional and the contemporary, his practice offers a narrative thread that links the past to the present and sheds light on the future of Kuninjku culture, one that embraces the old and the new.

This exhibition reunites more than 160 works of art from national and international collections made across a forty-year period. Mawurndjul’s bark paintings and sculpture will introduce audiences to stories that are central to Kuninjku culture, including dynamic connections to the land and ancestral power.

Mawurndjul is celebrated for his mastery of rarrk (cross-hatching), depiction of djang (sacred sites) and his ground-breaking contributions to the art of Western Arnhem Land. He is a four-time category winner in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, was awarded an Order of Australia in 2010, and in 2018 was presented with the Australia Council for the Arts’ Red Ochre Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts.

The exhibition has been developed and co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Art Gallery of South Australia, in association with Maningrida Arts & Culture. It is presented as part of TARNANTHI in partnership with BHP and with the support of the Government of South Australia.

Co-curated by Clothilde Bullen (Curator, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Collections & Exhibitions, MCA), Natasha Bullock (Senior Curator, MCA), Nici Cumpston (Artistic Director, TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, AGSA) and Dr Lisa Slade, Co-acting Director, Art Gallery of South Australia with the support of Keith Munro (Curator, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Programs, MCA) as Lead Cultural Advisor.

image detail: John Mawundjul, Kuninjku people, Northern Territory, born 1952, Kubukkan near Marrkolidjban, Arnhem land, Northern Territory, Ngalyod, c. 1981, earth pigments on Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta), 120 x 61.5 x 30 cm; Berndt Museum Collection, The University of Western Australia, Pert h (c) John Marwundjul/Licensed by Copyright Agency, 2018, photo: Berndt Museum.


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