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Skin name: Nawakadj
Date of birth: 1968-07-18
Community: Oenpelli, NT
Gabriel Maralngurra was among the founding members of Injalak Arts in the late 1980s, and continues to be a driving force behind the art centre today. Painting at Injalak since 1989 Gabriel’s artistic practice is reflected in the breadth and depth of the subjects he paints, his fluent linework and highly original compositions. Maralngurra’s work can be seen in periods, both in terms of style and subject matter, as he explores one artistic avenue after another. However behind this tireless experimentation his own confident and fluid style is unmistakeable, always balancing studied naturalism with a strong sense of design and stylisation. He attributes much of his artistic education to senior painter Thompson Yulidjirri in the early days of Injalak.
He is continually inspired by the rock art of West Arnhem Land, always referencing and working within this artistic tradition while pursuing formal innovations and new designs. His knowledge of stories, plants and animals gives him a wide range expressive material. His work has also explored the contact period in the Gunbalanya area, culminating in a solo exhibition ‘Contact’ at Mossenson Galleries in Melbourne in 2006.
He is an ambassador and mediator for Kunwinjku culture, having worked many years as a tour guide, Kunwinjku-English translator, Injalak board member and president, screenprinter and travelling widely around Australia for openings and launches. He is currently Co-Manager of Injalak. In September 1995 he travelled to Shanghai to represent the art centre at an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Exhibition of paintings from Injalak.
As a founder, it is in large part Maralngurra’s vision and belief in the mission of the art centre that has allowed it to carry on and thrive. He has helped create a place where the Art History of West Arnhem Land can be continued, developed, experienced by others and apprenticed to younger generations.