David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | Ngarrawu (Mangrove jack)

Australia 1927 – 1999
Ngarrawu (Mangrove jack)
1984.201 Vertical image of fish with white head and tail, cross-hatched body on black ground c.1984
Bark Painting
natural pigments and synthetic polymer on eucalyptus bark
irregular 63.8 (h) x 29.0 (w) cm
JW Power Bequest, purchased 1984 Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
VIEW: Article |

Malangi continually experimented with compositional format in devising paintings to venerate the Djan'kawu. He developed a series distinctive for the central placement of figures on the bark, in bold white pigment and rärrk on a dense black ground.

The depiction of the Ancestral beings in this way signals a sacred dimension and suggests a realm beyond the everyday. Thus, as the catfishis one essence of the Djan'kawu, represented on bark, it also becomes an icon of the Djan’kawu in the spiritual sense.

Malangi was painting these iconic, minimal works when he was in his late sixties; a mature painter and a ritual leader. The process of distilling the subject was an intellectual and spiritual exercise associated with attaining cultural authority and religious knowledge.

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