Nyapanyapa Yunupingu comes from a long lineage of Yolngu artists. Her father, Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, was a legendary aboriginal artist and political leader, and her late sister, Gulumbu Yunupingu, was a renowned artist and leader. Nyapanyapa Yunupingu was encouraged to pursue art from a young age.
Yunupingu approaches painting as a means of storytelling. Her work is individualistic and autobiographical. Using both natural materials indigenous to her region and manmade materials like acetate, she creates figurative and abstract works that represent personal experiences. Recognized for her paintings on bark, Yunupingu treats the surface with red or black ocher, before intuitively overlaying intricate paintings with white ocher. This process results in a high-contrast image; the rich color of the bark reveals itself behind tightly rendered crosshatching and motifs.
“The moment eternal: Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu,” a solo exhibition of Yunupingu’s work, is currently on view at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Australia through October 25th. It is the first solo exhibition at the museum to feature an Aboriginal artist. Yunupingu has been selected twice for the Biennale of Sydney, in 2012 and 2016, and her work sits in the collections of esteemed institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the Museum of New Zealand.