Other Spellings: Ubargu, Kubarku, Gubargu, Gobargo
Born: 1925 c.
Region: Central Arnhem Land
Community Centre: Maningrida
Outstation: Kubumi, Yikarrakkal
Language Bloc: Bininj kunwok
Language: Eastern Kunwinjku
Local Group (clan): Kulmarru
Social Affiliations: Duwa moiety, Balang subsection
Medium/ Form:Bark painting, ochres on bark, carved
and painted wooden sculpture
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Australian Museum, Sydney.
Department of Archaeology and
Anthropology, Australian National
Djomi Museum, Maningrida.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Arnotts Collection, Sydney.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra.
South Australian Museum, Adelaide.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.
1996 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney NSW.
1982, Aboriginal Art at the Top, Museum and Art Gallery of the
Northern Territory, Darwin.
1983, Artists of Arnhem Land, Canberra School of Arts.
1987, A selection of Aboriginal Art owned by the ANU, Drill Hall Gallery, ACT
1988, Dreamings, the art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York.
1988, The Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum
and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1988, Aboriginal art of the Top End, c.1935-Early 1970s, National
Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1989, A selection of Aboriginal Art owned by the ANU, Drill Hall
1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, Westpac
Gallery, Melbourne; Design Warehouse Sydney [through Lauraine Diggins Fine Art]
1990, Spirit in Land, Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land, National Gallery of Victoria
1993, The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art
Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1993/4, ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Louisiana Museum,
1994, Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1995, Moon, Rainbow and Sugarbag - The Art of Mick Kubarkku and Bardayal
Nadjamerrek, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, and touring.
1995, Willy Jolpa and Mick Kubarkku, Group exhibition at Aboriginal and South
Pacific Gallery, Sydney.
1995, The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the
Northern Territory, Darwin
Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London. (C)
Diggins, L. (ed.), 1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art,
exhib. cat., Malakoff Fine Art Press, North Caulfield, Victoria.
1993, Aratjara, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works
by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. cat. (conceived and designed
by Bernard Luthi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln. (C)
Ryan, J., 1990, Spirit in Land, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Sutton, P. (ed.), 1988, Dreamings: the Art of Aboriginal Australia, Viking, Ringwood,Victoria. (C)
West, M., (ed.), 1995, Rainbow Sugarbag and Moon, Two Artists of the Stone Country:
Bardayal Nadjamerrek and Mick Kubarkku, exhib. cat., Museum and Art Gallery of the
Northern Territory, Darwin.
© Discovery Media, Documentation Pty Ltd, and the Australian
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Mick Kubarkku has spent his life on small outstations close to waterholes
and billabongs, moving camp seasonally to hunt. In recent years he has
settled at Kubumi, a community in northern Arnhem Land. Kubarkku has painted
for most of his adult life, initially learning from his father, Ngindjalakku,
to make paintings for sacred ceremonies and later selling his works through
the government settlement of Maningrida.
He has a rugged and individual painting style that has changed very little
in over twenty years. As an artist he chooses not to adorn his figures with
meticulous geometric rarrk, the crosshatching painting technique common
throughout Arnhem Land, but prefers a barer, uneven form of crosshatching
similar to rock markings found in the country near Kubumi where he lives.
Large, uneven dots are often applied to the heads, hands and feet of the
artist's figures as well as the internal division, which suggests the backbone.
Kubarkku's crosshatching comprises horizontal, vertical or sloping bands of
red ochre, relieved by patches of black dots on white. His Mimi figures are
shown as substantial spirits emerging from the rock country. His more recent
astronomical paintings are in accord with Kunwinjku iconic conventions.
He is one of the few men who remember the old artists of the caves and can
give detailed interpretations of the figures and content of the cave paintings.
His subject matter and stories are a direct continuation of the cave-art
tradition, although his style of image-making is distinctive, particularly
the rendition of his figures and crosshatching. His work has a raw, rough,
and direct quality, in which the use of white dotted areas on black is a
stylistic marker. His cross-hatching is open and unlabored.
Kubarkku is recognised as being one of the great living Kunwinjku artists.
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