Christmann's career has spanned more than forty years since he arrived in Sydney, from Berlin, in 1959. Though his work has moved through a number of different "phases", Christmann has maintained a fascination with the world around him - he feeds off contemporary life. This is manifest in his recent adoption of a ''tag', a graffiti style calligraphy that is drawn across his paintings, sometimes in almost obsessive repetition.
Christmann first came to prominence during the 1960s, exhibiting European inspired hard edged abstraction. Associated with the important Central Street Gallery, Christmann's work was included in the seminal The Field exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968. Through this personal association with colourfield and hard edged painting, Christmann has created unique quotations and idiosyncratic variations on these styles in his later work. In a series exhibited at the Act XII: New Works on Paper exhibition, Christman ''tagged' colour photocopies of one of his paintings from 1967.
Christmann's paintings have featured in important exhibitions in Australia and overseas and he was chosen to represent Australia at the 1971 Sao Paulo Biennial. The National Gallery of Australia has a larger collection of works by Gunter Christmann than any other contemporary Australian artist. He currently resides in Sydney.
Born in 1952, Malaluba Gumana dedicates most of her artworks to portraying her mother Marratj Gurruwiwi's Galpu clan designs of dhatam (waterlilly), djari (rainbow), djaykun (filesnake) and wititj (olive python). Malaluba demonstrates a very fine 'marwat', a cross hatching technique that utilises a fine hairbrush, to paint on bark and memorial poles. In 2006, her local Art Centre encouraged her to produce larger and more complex works to further explore her spontaneous and fluid hand, an opportunity she wholeheartedly embraced.
Malaluba's paintings represent Garrimala, a billabong near where she lives, the Dhawau clan homeland at Gaga. It is a sacred site for the artists' mother's Galpu clan.
Wititj is the all powerful rainbow serpent (olive python) that travelled through Galpu clan lands and on further, during the days of early times called Waarr. Djayku the Javanese filesnake is a companion and possibly alternate incarnation of Wititj, living in amongst the Dhatam, or waterlillies, causing ripples and rainbows (Djari) on the surface of the water (one reference in the cross hatch).
The story of Wititj is of storm and monsoon, in the ancestral past. It has particular reference to the mating of Wititj during the beginning of the wet season when the Djarrwa (square shaped thundercloud) begin forming and the lightning starts striking.
The Galpu clan's miny'tji (sacred clan design behind the lillies) represents Djari (rainbows) and the power of the lightning within them. The sun shining against the scales of the snake form a prism of light like a rainbow. The power of the lightning is made manifest when they strike their tongue, the thunder being the sound they make as they move along the ground.
It also refers to the power of the storm created by Wititj, the diagonal lines representing trees that have been knocked down as Wititj moves from place to place. The ribs of the snake also form the basis of the sacred design here.
In mortuary ceremony for Galpu, the slithering line of dancers take on the form of Wititj and coil in the sand searching for their place. As the spirit comes to rest it adopts the metaphor of a python settling its head into the fork in the tree, known as Galmak, the final resting place of Wititj. Other references are the bunches of leaves dancers hold in their hands wet and shining in the sun, perhaps like a rainbow.
Courtesy of Yirrkala Dhanbul Community Association
Please join us for opening drinks on
Tuesday 8 July 2008 from 6.00pm
Director: William Nuttall
For further information please contact the gallery on (03) 9429 3666 or visit our website