David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | Dhamala Story (Catfish and Snake)

Australia 1927 – 1999
Dhamala Story (Catfish and Snake)
131.1984 Central vertical catfish, roundel at top, snake-like figure at left with limbs 1983
Bark Painting
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
116.0 (h) x 60.0 (w) cm
Purchased 1984 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

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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