Samuel Namunjdja

Biography

Samuel Namunjdja was born in West Central Arnhem Land in 1965. A member of an artistic family, Samuel was taught to paint the stories of his clan by his father, Peter Marralwanga, a distinguished painter.

When in his 20s, Namunjdja won the Rothmans Foundation Award for Best Painting in a Traditional Media at the National Aboriginal Art Award in 1993. He followed up with a high commendation in 2003 by winning the Telstra Bark Painting Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2006.

Samuel held his first solo exhibition at Niagara Galleries in 2004, and has participated in more than 30 important group exhibitions as far afield as Slovenia, Japan, France, UK and USA since 1988.  In addition to being a regular finalist in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, he was also shown in the important cross-cultural Living Together is Easy a joint exhibition at the Contemporary Art Centre, Japan and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. His work was also included in the seminal Crossing Country retrospective curated by Hetti Perkins for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

A common theme of Samuel Namunjdja’s work is the kunkurra or wind dreaming.  These paintings depict not only the spiralling winds and cyclones common in Arnhem Land, but also refer to Bilwoyinj, a site near Samuel’s clan estate. At this place, it is said that a father and son, important creation beings known as na-korrkko in the Kuninjku language group, hunted and ate a goanna, leaving behind some of the fat which became the rock salt that can be found at the site today. Bilwoyinj is also the ceremonial ground for Yabbaduruwa, a major ceremony which is concerned with matters of initiation, land ownership and the cycles of regeneration of man and nature. Other favourite subjects are the mimi spirit figures, Ngalyod rainbow serpent and the Namarrkon lightning man. Namunjdja paints not only these traditional stories, but also looks to less sacred surroundings and everyday activities such as fishing for yabbies, and other animals and plants.

Namunjdja produces a particularly fine style of rarrk in the West Arnhem Land style.  His detailed application of the ochre creates a delicate and lyrical surface. There is movement, life and depth in the work.  

The artist’s new bodies of work have been presented at Niagara Galleries in solo exhibitions since 2004. Most recently, Namundja’s work was curated into the Sentient Lands exhibition (2016) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  His work can be found in numerous collections including the Kluge Collection in the USA, The Kelton Foundation in USA, Musee des Confluences in France and locally at the  Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, and the Queensland Art Gallery.

Mimih Spirit (2016)
240cm x 8cm
Ochre on Wood

Languages

Kuninjku

From

Mankorlod

Community

Maningrida : NT

Moiety

Yirridjdja

Subsection

Bulanj

Date of birth

1965-08-10

Clan

Kardbam

Past Exhibitions

Solo

  • 2015
    Samuel Namunjdja, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2010
    Samuel Namunjdja, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2007
    Samuel Namunjdja, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2005
    Samuel Namunjdja, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2002
    Kardbam Namurungi - rarrk designs from the kardbam clan, Aboriginal and Pacific Arts, Sydney, NSW
  • 2002
    Samuel Namunjdja, Indigenart Gallery, Perth, Australia
  • 2001
    Samuel Namunjdja, Indigenart Gallery, Perth, Australia

Group

  • 2018
    Mardayin, Art Kelch, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2016
    2016-17 Human/Animal/Artist, McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
  • 2016
    Sentient Lands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2013
    The Gallery of Air, Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, VIC
  • 2012
    29th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2012
    Blue Chip XIV, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2010
    Best of Maningrida, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, Australia
  • 2010
    Togart Contemporary Art Award, Chan Contemporary Art Space, Darwin, Australia
  • 2009
    During the Wet, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, USA
  • 2009
    26th Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2009
    Orche - A Study in Materiality, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2009
    Maningrida Group Show, Maningrida Arts & Culture Gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 2009
    Maningrida Group Show, Sheahan Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2008
    Maningrida Art, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, Art, Chapman Gallery, Canberra
  • 2008
    Recent works from Maningrida, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 2008
    Maningrida survey show, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2008
    African Muse, Ecorces recentes de Maningrida, Galerie Luc Bertier, Paris, France
  • 2008
    Melbourne Art Fair, Art Fair, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2008
    Gungura - The Spiraling Wind, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    Spirit in Variation Part II, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    Spirit in variation, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2007
    rarrk, Bargehouse Gallery, London, UK
  • 2007
    Blue Chip IX, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2006
    Dream Tracks, Aboriginal art of Arnhem Land, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporay Art, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2006
    Australian Aboriginal Art 2006/2007, John Gordon Gallery, Coffs Harbour, NSW
  • 2006
    Lorrkons and Spirit Figures, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2006
    23rd Telstra National & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2006
    Peintures sur ecorce de Maningrida, African Muse Gallery, Paris, France
  • 2005
    Recent works from Maningrida, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2005
    Paris-Djinkarr-Milmilngkan, Maningrida Arts & Culture, Darwin, NT
  • 2005
    Rarrk, flowing on from Crossing Country, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2005
    22nd National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Arts Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2005
    After Crossing Country, a survey bark exhibition, Indigenart, Perth, WA
  • 2005
    Bark paintings and carvings from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2005
    Aboriginal Vision in Contemporary Australian Art, Wright exhibition space, Seattle, USA
  • 2005
    Recent works from Maningrida,, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
  • 2004
    Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2004
    Bark paintings, carvings and fibre works from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2004
    21st Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Museum & Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2004
    Fibre and sculptures, Indigenart, Fremantle, WA
  • 2004
    Hollow Logs from Maningrida, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2004
    Living together is easy, Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito, Japan
  • 2003
    Dreamtime, contemorary aboriginal art, Cankarjev Dom Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • 2003
    Out of the wet - new art by Kuninjku artists, Framed gallery, Darwin, NT
  • 2003
    The Visit, Annandale galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 2003
    20th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 2002
    Kuninjku, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK
  • 2002
    East + West, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, NSW
  • 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
    Transitions: 17 years of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; touring nationwide: Tandanya, Adelaide, SA; Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 1998
    Spirits of the Dreaming, National Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Sydney, NSW
  • 1996
    13th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 1993
    The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 1992
    The Ninth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Exhibition Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
  • 1988
    Gunwinggu Artists, Beaufort Convention Centre, Darwin, NT

Collections

  • AIATSIS Collection, Canberra, Australia
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  • Laverty Private Collection, Sydney, Australia
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  • The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, California, USA
  • Kluge Collection, Morven Estate, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
  • Musee des Confluences, Lyon, France
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • Agapitos/Wilson Collection, Sydney, Australia
  • Museum D'Histoire Naturelle de Lyon, France
  • Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Australia