Gulumbu YUNUPINGU, Garak the Universe Enlarge 1 /1

Gulumbu YUNUPINGU

Gumatj/Rrakpala peoples

Australia 1943 /1947 – 2012

Garak the Universe 2007 Place made: Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, bark paintings, natural earth pigments on stringybark

Dimensions: 234.0 h x 99.5 w x 9.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2007
Accession No: NGA 2007.1280
Image rights: © Gulumbu Yunupingu

Gulumbu Yunupingu’s source of inspiration for Garak, the Universe, which at first glance appears to be a literal representation of the Milky Way, is an important customary and ancestral story, particularly for the Yolngu people of North-East Arnhem Land, where the artist lives and works. However, Yunupingu has stated that her art is about the entire universe, all of the stars that can be seen by the naked eye and everything that exists far beyond any scientific expedition or estimation. She shares this approach with the late Anmatyerr artist Emily Kam Kngwarray, who made the emphatic statement that her work was alwey (the whole lot): everything that can be imagined, and all that is beyond the imagination. Garak, the Universe is an impressive larrikitj (hollow funeral pole), and is masterful in scale and in the lyrical way the artist has followed the form and surface structure of the trunk, using similar tones to catch the light on the log’s contours, mirroring the changes in density of the Milky Way.

Yunupingu’s style is unlike the majority of North-East Arnhem Land art, which is almost always based on fine cross-hatching, or rarrk, sacred design. The unusual aspect of her work is the lack of figurative representation present in so much of the work from North-East Arnhem Land. When Yunupingu looks at the stars she thinks about the universe, all around, and about every clan and every colour of people who, in all corners of the world, can look up and see the stars. The stars are also spirits of Yolngu who exist within specific bodies of water in North-East Arnhem Land when they are not in corporeal form. They exist in the astral dimension as well as ethereally within the water on an earthly plane.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Gulumbu Yunupingu’s source of inspiration for Garak the universe2007 is an ancestral story of the Yolngu people, who perceive the Milky Way as a river in the sky, full of fish and other creatures represented by the constellations. However, Yunupingu has stated that her art is about the entire universe, all of the stars that can be seen by the naked eye and everything that exists far beyond any scientific expedition or estimation.

Yunupingu’s painting style is influenced by her artist father, Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, but it is unusual in the canon of eastern Arnhem Land bark painting. Her free-flowing compositions contrast with the regular geometric structures featuring finely crosshatched clan designs or miny’tji typical of this region. Yet they achieve a similar effect: just as patterns of miny’tji are intended to create a visually animated surface suggesting the glow of ancestral forces, Yunupingu’s dense fields of stars shimmer with an intensity that evokes the sparkling brilliance of the night sky.

When Yunupingu looks at the stars she thinks about the universe, all around, and about every clan and every colour of people who, in all corners of the world, can look up and see the stars.

She says of her star designs:

I’m wishing for peace and for us to regard ourselves as one unified group of humans on the planet in the same way that the stars are one unified group of stars in the heavens, in the universe. So we are one family, one united family on the ground in the same way that the stars are united above us.[1]

Wally Caruana

[1] Gulumbu Yunupingu, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala, March 2007.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

古伦布·宇努品古 (Gulumbu YUNUPINGU)
澳大利亚北领地东阿纳姆地北
《嘎拉克宇宙》(Garak the Universe)
2007年
澳大利亚桉树皮,天然土性颜料
2340(高) x 995(宽) x9.5(深)厘米
2007年购买
收录号:NGA 2007.1280

古伦布·宇努品古创作《嘎拉克宇宙》(2007年)的灵感源于雍古人(Yolngu)的祖先故事,在雍古人祖先眼中,银河是天空里的一条河,里面尽是鱼和其他生物,表现为星群。然而,宇努品古说过,她的艺术是关于整个宇宙的、凡是肉眼看得见的星星以及所有超越科学考察和估计而存在的东西。

宇努品古的绘画风格受艺术家父亲芒古拉乌·宇努品古(Munggurrawuy Yunupingu)的影响,但在东阿纳姆地树皮画规范中与众不同。她的构图自由流畅,与使用精细交叉线渲染该地区典型氏族图腾,即miny’tji的整齐几何结构形成鲜明对比;但效果差不多:正如miny’tji图案适用于创造视觉活泼的表面以表示光辉的祖先之力一样,宇努品古稠密的星群闪烁出的星光唤醒夜空灿烂的光辉。

抬头凝视星空之际,宇努品古想到的是茫茫宇宙和各个部落及各种肤色的人们,他们身处世界各地,抬头可以瞭望满天繁星。

她对自己星群图案的看法:

我希望和平,希望我们把自己看成是这个星球上统一的一群人,就像宇宙天空中的星星是统一的一群星星一样。因此,我们是一家人,就像头顶星星统一的那样,是生活在地球上的统一大家庭[1]

Wally Caruana
瓦里·卡鲁阿那

[1]古伦布·宇努品古,巴库-拉尔恩盖穆尔卡(Buku-Larrnggay Mulka)中心,伊尔卡拉,2007年3月


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra