This is a beautifully executed white pigment on eucalyptus bark painting by ANDREW MUNAKALI (KUNWINJKU), an aboriginal painter from Arnhem Land in northern Australia. The piece measures 12" by 18" (31 cm. by 43 cm.) The Oenpelli label on the reverse says "Depicting: A Possum --- djebbuh. Gunbalanya Council Inc. Code No. TT232 By Andrew Munakali of Liverpool River." Judging from another sticker, the piece was sold in Sydney at some point after its creation, at an "aboriginal curios" shop, the proceeds benefiting the artist and/or aboriginal peoples. Munakali's works are included in some of Australia's national museums, but despite that honor, he does not appear to be among the best known of aboriginal painters. A small number of pieces have come to auction over the years. This example shows a possum in "X-ray" cross section, as the style is known. Aboriginal art is fraught with meanings and symbolism that might well not be obvious to westerners, including non-aboriginal Australians. This work has warped heavily by a few inches (think torsion) over the years since its creation, possibly due to the dry California climate; this seems to be a common affliction of bark paintings. Other than a bit of smearing of the pigment, the piece is in good condition. Contact me first if you are in Australia, in order to discuss shipping options.
Australian aboriginal art eucalyptus bark painting by ANDREW MUNAKALI KUNWINJKU (ca. 1940-1988)