Mick Kuburkuku Oenpelli Artist
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Style and Subject
His style is semi traditional with many of his paintings similar to those found in rock shelters.
The main difference is that Kuburkuku used more crosshatching (Rarrk) than in earlier Oenpelli rock art. This is no doubt an influence from his time spent in Mandigrida where cross-hatching is popular. He produced figurative work, with a distinctive space around his depictions of spirits and totemic animals. Other distinctive feature of many of his works include that his subjects have a white face covered with spots. The limbs of his spirit figures have non-wavy limbs with strong angled joints. He often omits eyes or other facial features.
Many of his later works on bark are very large some up to 1.3 meters long. He uses a combination of rarrk designs associated with the Mardayin ceremony and Oenpelli figures and spirits. Mick also did a few sculptures of mimih spirits and painted some hollow log bone recepticles.
Amongst his works were spirit beings from Arnhem Land. These include the Rainbow Serpent, the lightning spirit and Kodjok Bamdjelk, the pandanus spirit. He also paints namorroddo, yawk yawk and mimih spirits. It is these paintings of spirits that are most popular with collectors.
He also painted fish, spirit kangaroo’s echidna and namanjwarre (crocodile) and lambalk (sugar glider).
Mick was born in 1924 at Kukabarnka in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory Australia and was of the Kunwinjku people. He began painting at Oenpelli (northern Territory) shortly after the Second World War before moving to Maningrida in 1957. In Mandigrida he and David Milaybuma became the first regular commercial painters. His representations of malevolent spirit beings and ancestral figures resonate with power. They reflect a direct connection to the ancient tradition of Oenpelli painting on rock surfaces, a tradition that has since ceased.
It wasn’t until 1995, that Mick had his artistic vision recognised by the European world. His first exhibition called Rainbow, sugar bag and moon was at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
Mick was one of the last of a generation of Arnhem Land painters who could interpret images in rock galleries.
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Mick Kuburkuku bark painting Images
The following bark paintings are not a complete list of works but give a good feel for the variety and style of this artist