John Mawurndjul (born circa 1952) Rainbow Serpent and Water Lilies, 1997

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Lot 4
John Mawurndjul
(born circa 1952)
Rainbow Serpent and Water Lilies, 1997

Sold for AU$ 34,160 (US$ 24,098) inc. premium
John Mawurndjul (born circa 1952)
Rainbow Serpent and Water Lilies, 1997
natural earth pigments on paper
100.0 x 50.0cm (39 3/8 x 19 11/16in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Aboriginal Dreamtime Gallery, Alice Springs
    Private collection, Melbourne

    This work is accompanied by Aboriginal Dreamtime Gallery documentation, which states that this work depicts the rainbow serpent Ngalyod, son of Yingana and brother of Ngalkunburriyaymi. Ngalyod is the most powerful of the three, moving across the whole of Western Arnhem Land and adjacent islands and able to punish wrongdoing.

    Ngalyod has many manifestations. In this work he appears with the body of a python and the head of a crocodile. He typically swallows his victims or brings about a great flood in order to punish larger groups. Ngalyod controls the seasons and spends the dry season in a pool within a deep gorge or beside one of his sacred sites. He brings rains to replenish the water in rivers and billabongs in which animals and plants flourish.

    In her essay Mardayin Maestro for the catalogue accompanying Mawurndjul's recent retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Hetti Perkins discusses the artist's rainbow serpent paintings: 'Mawurndjul's exponential growth as an artist may perhaps be best traced in his paintings of Ngalyod, the Rainbow Serpent, which expanded in size and complexity as his ceremonial experience, confidence and authority grew...It appears that each iteration offers the artist an opportunity to experiment with the complexity of successfully resolving the theoretical incommensurability of curved and angular geometries existing on one plane. Mawurndjul tests the ability of the rarrk to suggest the potential and kinetic energy of the serpent.' The Ngalyod paintings '...act as a definitive warnings...illustrating the vengeful capacity of beings to punish transgressors or those who do not have ritual authority'.

    John C. Altman et al., John Mawurndjul : I am the old and the new, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney and Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2018, pp. 25-26

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this work measures 150.0 x 100.0cm, not 100.0 x 50.0cm as published in the catalogue.

    The work was exhibited in Arts d'Oceanie, La Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France, 26 April - 30 June 2006. The exhibition was scheduled to coincide with and celebrate the opening of the musée du quai Branly, Paris
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