"The two forces that intersect and underpin reality here are Fire and Lightning. Not their physical manifestation but the invisible tracks of energy containing their essence that vibrate through particular entities, wave lengths or songlines."
– WILL STUBBS
In the early 2000s, many Yolŋu artists began experimenting with a style of painting that be-came known as buwayak. Literally translated as “invisible” or “faint,” the buwayak movement disguised figurative elements beneath the geometric clan designs or maḏayin miny’tji.
This painting refers to the same narrative of the dugong hunters Garramatji and Burrak that can also be seen in Wakuthi Marawali’s painting Gurtha Dhäwu | Fire Story 1969, but Napuwarri hides his figures beneath a swirling strings of diamonds, representing the sacred rock and sea of Yathikpa. According to the artist, there are thirty-four dugong hidden in this work.
This painting was commissioned for the 2017-19 Kluge-Ruhe Maḏayin Commission. It was awarded the Bark Painting Prize at the 2018 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.
– Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
81 x 31
205 x 79
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia.
The 2017-19 Kluge-Ruhe Maḏayin Commission.
Purchased with funds provided by Margaret Marsh, 2019. 2019.0007.001.
About The Artist(s)
Napuwarri was taught to paint by his father, the respected artist Bakulaŋay Marawili, who he assisted on several collaborative paintings. His artist career began in earnest in 2004, and he held his first solo exhibition in 2008 at Suzanne O’Connell Gallery in Brisbane from which two works were acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. In 2018 he was awarded the Telstra Bark Painting Prize at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards for his painting Baraltja Dugong Yathikpa which was produced for the Maḏayin commission.