Alec Mingelmanganu

1905 - 1981 Wanjina 1980
  • ochre on canvas
65 cm x 120 cm

The Wanjina paintings created by Wunambal artist Alec Mingelmanganu are acknowledged as among the finest renditions of these quintessential icons of the north and central Kimberley.

In 1979 Mingelmanganu and the other Kalumburu artists were introduced to painting on canvas and Alec, inspired by the size achievable on canvas went on to produce a small but celebrated series of paintings of colossal Wanjina figures. This suite of paintings are regarded as among the most important bodies of work to emerge from the Kimberley at this period. Painted on canvas, the subtleties exhibited in this work that is almost monochromatic in execution, again evokes an ancient painting located on some distant rock wall.

Only the intensity of the piercing gaze and the rectangular symbol that may represent at times the sternum, the heart or a pearl shell ornament relieve the more subdued earth colours that make up the painting generally. The intensity of the eyes seem to lead the viewer into their depths and then on, through them into a deeper, more distant dimension - another cosmos situated on the other side of the canvas, the universe.

Again, comparison with various individual elements found within this and other paintings by Mingelmanganu, variation and flexibility in his approach to depicting Wanjina figures becomes very apparent.

Text © Kim Akerman

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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