Nyapanyapa Yunupingu’s self-titled sixth solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery features 14 works that reflect the continuous evolution within her practice.

Nyapanyapa comes from rich artistic genealogy including musicians Mandawuy Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. In spite of being taught by her father, great Gumatj patriarch and artist Munggurrawuy, Nyapanyapa’s art practice remains independent of bark painting traditions of the Yirrkala region/Yolgnu people of Arnhem Land. These works are unique because they are highly personal and not defined by sacred law. They represent the stories and memories from her life - both past and present. Her paintings contain both figurative and abstract elements, each a story within a rectangular frame.  

This stunning exhibition of bark paintings continues Nyapanyapa’s exploration of the mark and is a progression of her individual style. Using traditional earth pigments, the bark is prepared with black or red ochre. Rhythmic crosshatching and figurative components are then overlaid in white ochre. The results are luminous. ‘She makes marks intuitively, the mark is the meaning and the medium is the message’ explains Will Stubbs, the coordinator of the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre. What many people respond to is that she is not bound by tradition. She is an outsider. This body of work is intimate and gentle, pared back to the hand, the paint, and the rhythm.

The intriguing feature of Nyapanyapa’s practice is that she paints not to please an audience but rather to experience the making of a mark. Like many abstractionists, her work is process driven and improvisatory. The authenticity of the gesture penetrates the viewer. With each mark she has no idea what the next will be, she lives in the moment. Perhaps this is the outcome of a dance that has been going on for 40,000 years.

—Kate Alstergren

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu has been selected for this years 20th Biennale of Sydney: The future is already here- its just not evenly distributed curated by Stephanie Rosenthal. Nyapanyapa was also selected for the 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations in 2012 by curators Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster. In 2014, Nyapanyapa was included in Ian Potter Museum of Art’s The World is Not a Foreign Land, which toured Australia untill early this year.  Several of her works were also selected for inclusion in Yirrkala Drawings (2014) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 2011 the Art Gallery of Western Australia exhibited several works, including Nyapanyapa’s major ‘light painting’ animation in the Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards. In 2008 she won the 25th National Aboriginal Art Award and was also selected for the prize in 2007 and 2009. Nyapanyapa’s paintings are held in major public collections in Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

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