Aboriginal artist George Milpurrurru is recognised as having been one of the major bark painters of Arnhem Land. He was also a ceremonial leader of the Ganalbingu language speaking people, a skilled hunter, amarngitj or traditional healer, a ceremonial singer and dancer.
His connections to country, people and the Dreaming are reflected in the recurring themes of his work and the Dreamings of his clan, the Gurrumba Gurrumba.
Milpurrurru’s figurative art maintains the religious nature of the subject matter through the repeated patterns of motifs across the surface of his work. The repetition of images refers to the regular patterns of conventional motifs found in the sacred paintings made for ceremonial purposes. The dynamic surfaces of Milpurrurru’s paintings capture the vitality of the inner play between song, movement and painting in ceremony. Milpurrurru’s work is firmly based on the classical tradition of bark painting yet it reflects the vision of a contemporary artist working in the modern world.
His work was represented in three Biennales of Sydney as well as in major exhibitions in Australia, South East Asia and America.George Milpurrurru was one of the principal contributors to ‘The Aboriginal Memorial 1998’ made from 200 painted burial poles symbolising 200 years of white occupation of Australia. This installation has since been exhibited overseas including in the Hermitage Museum of St Petersbug and is on permanent display in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Milpurrurru, together with fellow artists Roy Burnyila and David Daymirringu (Malangi) sang to consecrate the placing of the poles in the National Gallery. He is one of the few Australian artists who has been honoured with a solo retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.
Subject & Themes
Gurrumatji (magpie goose) and its eggs, Yarlman or Biyarri (water lily), Gunungurr (black headed python), Djarrka (goanna), Wangarr Watu or Djanyarr (sacred dog) and Warrnyu (flying fox)Gaminangu (white clay), Dupun hollow log coffin burial ceremony performed by his clan. Crocodile, Mewal – honey spirit, Karr – spider.
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.
Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of WA, Perth.
Australian Museum, Sydney.
Gold City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise, Qld.
Milingimbi Collection, MECA, Milingimbi Educational and Cultural Association.
Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Darwin. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ramingining Collection, Sydney.
Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London.
Myer Gatner Collection, USA.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra. Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.
South Australian Museum, Adelaide.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
The John Kluge Collection, USA. Tropenmuseum, Kindermuseum, Amsterdam.
1985 Aboriginal Artists Gallery, Sydney.
1993 The Art of George Milpurrurru, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
1993 Hogarth Gallery, Paddington, NSW 1993 Desert Designs, Fairmont, WA.
1966 Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land, Museum of Art, The University of Kansas.
1973 Aboriginal and Melanesian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1975 Australian Bark Painting, from the collection of Dr. Edward L. Ruhe, Meadow Brook Art Gallery, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA.
1976 The Art of Black Australia, Aboriginal Arts Board.
1976 Art of the First Australians, Australian Exhibit Organisation, Canada.
1977 Exhibition of Aboriginal Art of North Australia, Aboriginal Arts Board.
1979 Traditions and Innovations, National Assembly Building, Darwin 1979 European Dialogue, Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.
1982 Aboriginal Art at the Top, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Darwin.
1983 Artists of Arnhem Land, Canberra School of Arts.
1983 Mulgurrum Exhibition George Paton Gallery, Melbourne.
1983 Arnhem Land Art, Perc Tucker Gallery, Townsville 1983, NAIDOC Week.
1983 NAIDOC Week Ramingining Exhibition, Campbelltown, NSW.
1984 Objects and Representations from Ramingining, Power Gallery of Contemporary Art [Now the Museum of Contemporary Art], Sydney.
1984 Aboriginal Art, an exhibition presented by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra.
1985 National Aboriginal Week Exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.
1985 Ramingining Art Exhibition, Nerang Gallery, Gold Coast, Qld.
1986 Central Arnhem Land Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1986 Origins, Originality + Beyond, Biennale of Sydney.
1986 The Third National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1986 Ramingining Art, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth.
1986 Ramingining Art, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT.
1986 My Country, My Story, My Painting: Recent Paintings by Twelve Arnhem Land Artists, National Gallery of Australia exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra.
1986 Painted Objects from Arnhem Land, National Gallery of Australia.
1987 Australia: Art & Aboriginality, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, UK.
1987 Ramingining Art, The Centre Gallery, Gold Coast, Qld.
1987 Ramingining Art, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, NSW.
1987 Ramingining Art, Birukmarri Gallery, Freemantle, WA.
1987 Dalkuna mnunuwuy nhe rom, Foreign Exchange, Armadale, Victoria.
1988 Beneath the Southern Cross, Biennale of Sydney.
1988 The Aboriginal Memorial, Sydney Biennale, Pier One, now on permanent display, National Gallery of Australia.
1988 The Inspired Dream, Life as art in Aboriginal Australia, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and touring internationally.
1989 Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
1989 Recent Works from Ramingining and Maningrida, Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Paddington, NSW.
1989 Masterpiece Fine Art Gallery, Hobart.
1989 Ramingining/Yuendumu, Friends of the Earth Gallery, Melbourne.
1989 Ramingining Art, Ben Grady Gallery, Canberra.
1989 Ramingining Art, Shades of Ochre Gallery, Darwin.
1989 On the Edge: Five Contemporary Aboriginal Artists, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
1989 The Sixth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1989 A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, Westpac Gallery, Melbourne; Design Warehouse Sydney [through Lauraine Diggins Fine Art]
1990 l’ete Australien a’ Montpellier, Musee Fabre Gallery, Montpellier, France.
1990 Spirit in Land, Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land, National Gallery of Victoria.
1990 Ramingining/Bathurst Island, The Centre Arts, Adelaide Arts Festival.
1990 Alice Prize, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs.
1990 Painted Ship, Painted Oceans, S. H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney.
1990 Tagari Lia: My Family, Contemporary Aboriginal Art.
1990 -from Australia, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, and toured UK.
1990 Keepers of the Secrets, Aboriginal Art from Arnhem l and, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
1991 Ramingining and Fiona Foley, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.
1991 Selection from the John Kluge Collection: Painting Their Land, 24 Hour Art, Contemporary Art Space, Darwin.
1991 Art from the Arafura Swamp, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs.
1991 Ramingining Art, Birukmarri Gallery, Freemantle, WA.
1992 Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo.
1992/3 New Tracks Old Land: An Exhibition of Contemporary Prints from Aboriginal Australia, touring USA and Australia.
1993 The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1993 Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1993 Prints by Ramingining Artists, Hogarth Gallery, Paddington, NSW.
1994 Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1994 Art of the Rainbow Snake, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1995 Verhalen om niet te Verdwalen, Kindermuseum, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.
1995 The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
2000 Yolngu Science MCA, Sydney.
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