Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Art of Arthur Pambegan Jr[1]
Art Essay
Marie-Therese Wisniowski


Introduction[1]
WARNING: This post contains images of dead aboriginal man - Arthur Pembegn Jr.

Arthur Pambegan Jr is a well-known and respected indigenous artist. He was an Aurukun artist. He was born in 1936 in Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula and lived in the community all his life.



From an early age he was engaged in the ceremonial life of Aurukun, learning from his father Arthur Koo’ekka Pambegan Sr, and later performing, carving and painting. He was a senior member of the Wik-Mungkan people and an elder of the Winchanam ceremonial group. He died in 2010.

Arthur Pambegan Jr.

Pambegan showed his work in 2000 at National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. In 2002 his work made a strong impact in the large exhibition Stories from Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

Untitled #18 (2009).
Arthur Koo’ekka Pambegan Jr and son, Alair Pambegan.
Size: 61 × 81 cm.

In 2003 Pambegan made impressive large painted sculptures commissioned for the exhibition Story Place: Indigenous Art of Cape York and the Rainforest at Queensland Art Gallery. In 2007 Pambegan participated in the first National Indigenous Art Triennial Cultural Warriors at the National Gallery of Australia.

He was a feature artist in the exhibition, 'Cultural Wars' at the Australian Museum.

Internationally Pambegan has shown his work at the Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou China, and at the Hermitage Museum St Petersburg, Russia. His works are in the collections of National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The coastal region north of Aurukun township has an distinctive formation of cliffs, where the area’s dark red bauxite is layered with strata of white clay. These are the very markings of red and white bands of color used in traditional body painting for ceremony and for sculpture decoration and more recently canvas painting of Aurukun.



Anthropologist and linguist Peter Sutton identifies that in traditional Aboriginal cultures, it is the “ritual ceremony” that influences aesthetics bringing to “the spiritual and social frameworks of life … a visual order”. Aesthetic excellence were seen to be those markings emanating “powerful distinct expressions of Wik law”.

Bad memories of a by-gone era.


The Art of Arthur Pambegan Jr[1]

Arthur Pambegan Jr.
Untitled III (Walkan-aw and Kalben designs) 2007.
Materials: Ochres and Charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 117 x 183 cm.
Held in a private collection.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr.
Untitled V (Walkan-aw and Kalben designs) 2007.
Materials: Ochres and Charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 102 x 91 cm.
Held in a private collection.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr and Alair Pambegan.
Untitled #9 (Walkan-aw and Kalben designs) 2009.
Materials: Ochres and Charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 61 x 92 cm (diptych).
Collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr.
Untitled XXVI (Walkan-aw and Kalben designs) 2008.
Materials: Ochres and Charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 76 x 66 cm.
Collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr.
Untitled XXIX (Walkan-aw and Kalben designs) 2008.
Materials: Ochres and Charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 61 x 46 cm.
Held in a private collection.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr and Alair Pambegan.
Untitled XVIII (Kalben design) 2007.
Materials: Ochres with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 46 x 61 cm.
Held in a private collection.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr and Alair Pambegan.
Note: Only one half of the actual installation.
Kalben (a bone fish story place) ND WALKn-aw (A sacred site in the flying fox story) 2008-2009.
Materials: Ochres and charcoal with synthetic polymer binder.
Size of total installation: 193 x 512 x 23 cm. installed
Collection of The University if Queensland - purchased in 2009.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.

Arthur Pambegan Jr.
Untitled VI (Walikan-aw and Kalben designs) 2007.
Materials: Ochres and charcoal with synthetic polymer binder on linen.
Size: 91 x 102 cm.
Collection of The University if Queensland - purchased in 2008.
Photograph courtesy of Mick Richards.


Reference
Editor S. Butler, Before Time Today, National Library of Australia, Canberra (2010).