Owen Yalandja

Owen  Yalandja

Biography

Kuninjku artist Owen Yalandja is a senior member of the Darnkolo clan, the custodians of an important yawkyawk site.

In the early 1980s, Yalandja learned carving from his father, renowned artist Crusoe Kuningbal who invented, in the early 1960’s the representation of mimih spirit in sculptural form for use in a trade ceremony called Mamurrng. Members of the Darnkolo clan have re-established an outstation community at Barrihdjowkkeng near a billabong that is a Yirridjdja moiety sacred site for the yawkyawk spirits. Yawkyawk or young spirit girls live in this billabong and their shadows can occasionally be seen as they humans who approach. They are girls who transformed into mermaid-like figures with fish tails. The identity of the Darnkolo clan is very much related to the Yawkyawk djang (dreaming) for which they have spiritual and practical responsibility.  Yalandja and his brother Crusoe Kurddal followed their father’s legacy but over the years have found their own distinct styles.

In the early 1990s, Yalandja experimented with the dot patterns his father taught him, and created V shaped marks to represent the scales of the watery beings. As Yalandja says, “I make it [yawkyawk] according to my individual ideas. My father used to decorate them with dots. A long time ago, he showed me how to do this. But this style is my own, no one else does them like this.”   Yalandja continued to innovate, “In the early 1990s Yalanja experimented with the patterns of dots taught to him by his father and created new arrangements; first in arcs to suggest scales, but later he developed small v- shaped marks to suggest individual scales.”1  Yalandja works exclusively with the kurrajong tree for carving and carefully selects trunks which can be thin and curvilinear to give his figures a sinuous appearance.

Yalandja’s work is represented in major International collections and has been exhibited at major institutions both locally and globally including at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Australia, Melbourne Museum, Bargehouse Gallery, London and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His work has also been presented at the Venice Biennale, Biennale of Sydney and the National Australian Indigenous Triennial.

1. Taylor, Luke. 2005. “Manifestations of the Mimih.” In the Power of Knowledge and the Resonance of Tradition, ed. Luke Taylor, Graeme Ward, Graham Henderson, Richard Davis, and Lynley Wallis, 182-98.

Yawk Yawk,
earth pigments on Kurrajong, 222.3 × 34.9 × 14.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with the assistance of Barry and Helen Fitzgerald and NGV Supporters of Indigenous Art, 2011
© Owen Yalandja/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

Languages

Kuninjku

From

Barrihdjowkkeng

Community

Maningrida : NT

Moiety

Yirridjdja

Date of birth

1961-12-31

Past Exhibitions

Solo

  • 2015
    Owen Yalandja, Seva Frangos Art, Subiaco, Australia
  • 2011
    Yawkyawk: Water Spirit Carvings from Maningrida, Rebecca Hossack, London
  • 2010
    Owen Yalandja: Yawkyawk, Seva Frangos Art, Subiaco, Australia
  • 2008
    Owen Yalandja, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2005
    Owen Yalandja, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2004
    Owen Yalandja, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2002
    Owen Yalandja, Redback Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2000
    Owen Yalandja. Water Spirit Sculptures from Barrihdjowkeng, Aboriginal & Pacific Arts, Sydney, NSW

Group

  • 2016
    Owen Yalandja, Bob Burruwal, Jack Nawilil: New Yawkyawk Spirits and Sculptures, Annandale Gallery, Sydney, Australia
  • 2016
    Sentient Lands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2015
    Black Art / White Walls, Curated by Djon Mundine, Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2014
    Four Spirits from Maningrida, FireWorks Gallery
  • 2012
    Dream Catchers, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
  • 2012
    Maningrida Group Show, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2011
    Maningrida 2011 - Where the Dreaming Changes Shape, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2011
    Shalom Gamarana Ngiyani Yana, Waterhole Art,Sydney, Australia
  • 2011
    Maningrida Arts and Culture, Annandale Gallery, Sydney, Australia
  • 2010
    Togart Contemporary Art Exhibition, Chan Contemporary Arts Space, Darwin, Australia
  • 2009
    Maningrida Group Show, Maningrida Arts & Culture Gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 2009
    Spirit Beings and Ceremonial Lorrkon, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2009
    Orche - A Study in Materiality, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2009
    26th Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2009
    Menagerie, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2008
    Maningrida Survey, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2008
    Melbourne Art Fair, Art Fair, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2008
    Gungura - The Spiraling Wind, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    One sun, one moon, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    rarrk, Bargehouse Gallery, London, UK
  • 2007
    Culture Warriors, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
  • 2007
    Spirit in Variation, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    Spirit in Variation Part II, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2006
    Untitled, Togart Contemporary Art exhibition, Darwin, NT
  • 2006
    Dream Tracks, Aboriginal art of Arnhem Land, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporay Art, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2006
    23rd Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2006
    Lorrkons and Spirit Figures, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2006
    Australian Aboriginal Art 2006/2007, John Gordon Gallery, Coffs Harbour, NSW
  • 2006
    Sculptures from Maningrida, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2005
    Spirit Beings and Lorrkon, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2005
    Aboriginal vision in Contemporary Australian Art, Wright exhibition space, Seattle, USA
  • 2005
    rarrk, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2004
    Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    Mythological beings from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleris, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    Dreamtime, contemorary aboriginal art, Cankarjev Dom Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • 2003
    Next Generation, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2003
    The Visit, Annandale galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    People, Fire-Works Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
  • 2002
    19th Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2002
    East + West, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2001
    Vital fluids, Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 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
  • 2000
    Biennale Of Sydney 2000, Biennale Of Sydney, various venues at various location, NSW
  • 1999
    My Country: Australische Aboriginal Kunst, Brandweer Kazerne, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 1999
    Spirit Country: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Gantner Myer Collection,, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  • 1998
    Spirits of the Dreaming Jarraman Arts Aboriginal Corporation,, National Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Sydney, NSW
  • 1997
    Metamorphosis, Gallery Pizzi at Venice Biennale Palazzo Papadopoli, Venice, Italy
  • 1996
    Spirits of the Dreaming, Raintree, Raintree Fine Art Gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 1996
    Dreaming: Aboriginal Art from Australia, Galerie Kouwenhoven, Delft, Netherlands
  • 1996
    Dreaming: Aboriginal Art from Australia, Galerie Kouwenhoven, Delft, Netherlands
  • 1996
    Maningrida Exhibition, Indigenart, Subiaco, WA
  • 1996
    Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 1994
    Pitture e Sculture dell Australia Aborigena, Touring Italy: Spazio Krizia, Milan; Palazzo Butera, Palermo; Museo di Architetture e Scultura Ligure di Sant Agostino, Genova.
  • 1993
    Group Maningrida Exhibition, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 1993
    The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT

Collections

  • Helen Read Collection, Darwin, Australia
  • Aimee Proost Private Collection, Australia
  • Laverty Collection, Sydney, Australia
  • Artbank, Sydney, Australia
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  • Coopers & Lybrand Collection, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • David Betz private collection, New York, USA
  • Kluge Collection, Morven Estate, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
  • Walonia Aboriginal Art, The Netherlands
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
  • Macquarie Bank Art Collection, Australia
  • Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia
  • Museum of Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Gantner Myer Collection, United States of America
  • William and Lucy Mora Private Collection, Melbourne, Australia
  • Musee des Confluences, Lyon, France