Ivan Namirrkki

Ivan Namirrkki

Biography

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Ivan Namirrkki

“We have been all around the world to exhibitions. I am the voice of this artists group and a strong man; a proud traditional owner who is happy to inform my peoples of our future in telling stories around the world. We are thinking about our history, always thinking as we are creating and learning, and my family put their stories on some bark and some rocks here in this country. For my kids and grandkids to learn and teach their kids and grandkids, I think this is really wonderful. This is really important to me and the people of this community, so that this story can keep me strong story, one that is passed on for future generations.” – Ivan Namirrkki

Kuninjku artist Ivan Namirrkki was born in 1961.  Namirrkki was taught to paint by his father Peter Marralwanga  (1917–1987) – a renowned bark painter and political proponent of the maintenance of ‘country’.

Namirrkki was first taught to paint by his father in a figurative manner. The focus was stories like Kalawan and Namorrorddo for his Kardbam clan lands near Mankorlod although later Marralwanga also guided Namirrkki in the stories for other clans around Kumurrulu. He helped his father work on two exhibitions in Perth in 1981 and 1983 and travelled to Perth as part of the project. To distinguish his own figurative works Namirrkki often used black paint as the background to the figures although, like his father, he also became adept at varying the pattern of infill from rarrk to dotting to sections of full colour to create dynamic visual effects. In the late 1990s Namirrkki moved to paint geometric work in the Mardayin style. His style is very strongly symmetrical with evenly spaced bands of rarrk arrayed in concentric diamond forms. This diamond arrangement has become his signature and it features as the background of works that show the complex interconnections between waterholes in his country. He also contrasts this patterning with dotting and other variations of rarrk to indicate the power of the sites. Occasionally Namirrkki will return to paint figurative images or combine them in more geometric images.

Common themes in his work include the ngalyod (rainbow serpent), birmlu and djarlahdjarlah (barramundi), kalawan (goanna), komorlo (little egret), komrdawh (freshwater turtle), nadjinem (black wallarroo), nakidikidi (a harmful and nasty spirit), namorrorddo (a profane spirit), nayuhyungki bininj (ancient people), ngaldjalarrk (snake), ngalyod (rainbow serpent), ngurrurdu (emu), and yawkyawk (a female water spirit).

He is also known for painting leech djang located at Yibalaydjyigod and maggot djang located at Yirolk.   Luke Taylor cites Namirrkki and his father’s work,  transferring this djang (or dreaming), as a political act, invoking a tangible aboriginal ontology in relation to land, life and the spiritual.  

“The point of painting such work for the market is to expose viewers directly to the power of the Ancestral realm…Namirrkki has spoken of his love for country particularly the soothing qualities of living adjacent to its important waters. There is also a confidence and peace derived from living in one’s heartland that  flows to all activities conducted there. An understanding of the importance of country provides the context for more developed understanding of Kuninjku concepts of personhood, sociality, power, and health, as well as local constructions of other frameworks of human experience such as aesthetic experience.”1

Namirrkki began exhibiting his work in the early nineteen eighties and has been presented in numerous group and solo shows over the years, both in Australia and overseas. In 2006 he was a finalist in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Contemporary Art Prize.  Namarrkki’s art can be found in many collections including that of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

1.  Luke Taylor, Connections of Spirit: Kuninjku Attachments to Country,  in Country, Native Title and Ecology, ed. Jessica K. Weir, pp. 21-46.

Lorrkon, Gungura (Hollow log representing the spiralling wind), 2005.
NGV acquisition: Image courtesy of NGV.

Languages

Kuninjku

From

Marrkolidjban

Community

Maningrida : NT

Date of birth

1961-01-01

Clan

Kardbam

Past Exhibitions

Solo

  • 2009
    Ivan Namirrkki, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2007
    Ivan Namirrkki, Raft Artspace, Darwin, NT
  • 2002
    Kardbam namurungi - rarrk designs from the kardbam clan, Aboriginal and Pacific Arts, Sydney, NSW
  • 1999
    Ivan Namirrkki, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW

Group

  • 2017
    Landscape as Knowledge, Grace Cossington Smith Gallery, Sydney, NSW
  • 2016
    Bark + Ironwood, Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2015
    Summer Sojourn, Art Atrium, Sydney, NSW
  • 2015
    Exploration of Bark, Outstation Gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 2014
    Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection, Academy Gallery, University of Tasmania Gallery, TAS
  • 2012
    Maningrida Group Show, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2011
    The Dreaming Changes Shape, Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2011
    Westfarmers Exhibition, Perth, Australia
  • 2010
    Collection Highlights, Seva Frangos Art, Subiaco, Australia
  • 2010
    Best of Maningrida, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, Australia
  • 2009
    Recent Works by Maningrida, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2009
    26th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2009
    Ancestral Spirit Beings and Ceremonial Lorrkon, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2008
    Melbourne Art Fair, Art Fair, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2008
    Maningrida Arts, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2008
    Togart Contemporary Art Award, Togart, Northern Territory
  • 2008
    25th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2008
    "Gungura - The Spiraling Wind”, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    rarrk, Bargehouse Gallery, London, UK
  • 2007
    Lorrkon, Spirit Beings, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2007
    Maningrida group show, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    New Works, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 2007
    Spirit in Variation Part II, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    Spirit in Variation, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2006
    Dream Tracks, Aboriginal art of Arnhem Land, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporay Art, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2006
    Our Home, CDU Art Collection, CDU, Darwin, NT
  • 2006
    Clemenger Contemporary Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2006
    Lorrkons and Spirit Figures, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2005
    Rarrk, flowing on from Crossing Country, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2005
    Recent works from Maningrida, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2005
    22nd National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Arts Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2005
    Bark paintings and carvings from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2004
    Maningrida Recent Works, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2004
    Maningrida Burial Poles, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK
  • 2004
    Hollow Logs from Maningrida, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2004
    Bark paintings, carvings and fibre works from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2004
    Crossing Country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    Out of the wet -new art by Kuninjku artists-, Framed gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 2003
    Mythological beings from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleris, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    20th Telstra national Abortiginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2003
    The Visit, Annandale galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    RAKA award, Places that Name Us, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbounr VIC
  • 2002
    East + West, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2002
    19th Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2002
    Barks in the spotlight, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2002
    Kuninjku show, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, Uk, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK
  • 2001
    18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2001
    Outside in: Research Engagements with Arnhem Land Art, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  • 2001
    In the Heart of Arnhem Land. Myth and the making of contemporary Aboriginal art, Musée del l’Hôtel-Dieu, Mantes-la-Jolie, France
  • 2001
    Arnhem Land Carvings and Bark Paintings, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2000
    Aboriginal bark paintings, sculptures & hollow logs, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2000
    Biennale Of Sydney 2000, Biennale Of Sydney, various venues at various location, NSW
  • 2000
    Kuninjku Cosmology: recent works by Mick Kubarkku and his sons, Aboriginal & Pacific Arts, Sydney, NSW
  • 1989
    Kunwinjku, Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne, VIC
  • 1988
    Gunwinggu Artists, Beaufort Convention Centre, Darwin, NT
  • 1983
    Artists of Arnhem Land, Canberra School of Arts, Canberra, ACT

Collections

  • Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, VIC
  • Charles Darwin University Art Collection
  • Dr. Colin and Liz Laverty private collection, Sydney, NSW
  • Artbank, Sydney, NSW
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA
  • Djomi Museum, Maningrida, NT
  • Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT