John Mawurndjul, Ngalyod (Female Rainbow Serpent), 1988. Earth pigments on Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta). Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Mr and Mrs Jim Bain, 1989. © John Mawurndjul / Copyright Agency, 2018.

“The old ways of doing things have changed into the new ways. The new generation does things differently. But me, I have two ways. I am the old and the new.” – John Mawurndjul AM.

John Mawurndjul AM is celebrated for his mastery of rarrk (fine-painted cross-hatching), a tradition shared by generations of Kuninjku artists. This exhibition of bark paintings and sculptures tells the stories of Kuninjku culture and the significant locations surrounding the artist’s home in western Arnhem Land.

John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new reunites works of art from national and international collections made across a 40-year period.

Born in 1952, Mawurndjul lives and works in Milmilngkan in western Arnhem Land and Maningrida in central north Arnhem Land. Since his first exhibition in 1980, he has become one of Australia’s most widely recognised artists. In 1989 his work was included in the ground-breaking exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou and Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, and his works have been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Australia, America, Germany and Japan.

John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new is co-curated by Clothilde Bullen (Curator, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions, MCA), Natasha Bullock (Senior Curator, MCA), Nici Cumpston (Artistic Director, TARNANTHI Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art) and Dr Lisa Slade (Co-acting Director, Art Gallery of South Australia), with Keith Munro (Curator, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Programs, MCA) as lead Cultural Advisor; in close collaboration with John Mawurndjul AM.



Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
6 July – 23 September 2018

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
26 October 2018 – 28 January 2019


A smaller version of the exhibition will then tour regionally to seven locations across Australia until 2020:

Murray Art Museum Albury (NSW): 8 March – 26 May 2019
Glasshouse Port Macquarie (NSW): 26 July – 22 September 2019
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre (NSW): 7 December 2019 – 19 January 2020
Cairns Regional Gallery (QLD): 7 February – 29 March 2020
Charles Darwin University Art Collection & Art Gallery (NT): 17 April – 28 June 2020
Tweed Regional Gallery (NSW): 10 July – 20 September 2020
Bunjil Place Gallery (VIC): 2 October – 29 November 2020



John Mawurndjul is a close relative of the principle artists featured in the Ngaldjorlhbo exhibition in Paris.

For more information, please visit the dedicated website with artist biography, Kuninjku glossary, 160-plus artworks and more.

SOURCE: Museum of Contemporary Art.