Mick Kubarkku







Mick Kubarkku

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


Collections:
Artbank, Sydney.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Australian Museum, Sydney.
Department of Archaeology and
Anthropology, Australian National
University, Canberra.
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.


Exhibitions:
Individual exhibitions:
1996 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney NSW.

Group exhibitions:
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 
Gallery, ACT
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, 
Humlebaek, Denmark
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



Select Bibliography:
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



Notes:
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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