Born 1952, near Mumeka, Mann River, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Lives and works Milmilngkan and Maningrida, Central Arnhem Land. Kuninjku people.
Working within the long tradition of bark painting, John Mawurndjul’s work explores themes of spirituality, mythology and life cycles. The revered Ngalyod, or Rainbow Serpent, has remained a central theme in his work, along with the sacred places and Mardayin ceremonies of his ancestral homeland. Mawurndjul is well known for his innovative use of very fine rarrk (cross-hatching) in dazzlingly complex arrangements that dominate the surface of his paintings, depicting and encoding these sacred sites and stories.
Since his first exhibition in 1982 Mawurndjul has become one of Australia’s most widely recognised artists. In 1989 he was included in the landmark exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou and Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, France and his works have been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Sydney, New York, Paris and Japan. His work was the subject of a major survey exhibition at the Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland in 2005. Mawurndjul is one of eight artists whose work is now part of the largest international commission of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris. His work is represented in the collections of major public institutions in Australia and internationally.