Rock Art Style – Gabriel Maralngurra
Rock Art Style – Gabriel Maralngurra


First I was watching my uncle Thompson Yulidjirri doing painting in rock art style. When I was a young fella he took me up the hill for the first time. We were going up the hill and he was showing me the rock art in the similar cross hatching style that we’re doing but different. I was also learning from my father in law, Lofty Nadjamerrek, who is also a famous artist. I used to see them both painting here on this verandah where I paint and back home. I used to see Lofty paint at the house and that’s how I learnt how to paint. I learnt the dreamtime stories. I became more interested in painting cross hatching and x-ray style.

I am mentoring and teaching the young ones how to do the traditional West Arnhem Land painting style like I paint. I am always happy to see the rock art painting style. It’s good for tourists to see rock art style on paper and on bark. Tourists go up the hill, they see x-ray painting and that’s what we paint at the art centre. They ask what’s the difference between cross hatching and single hatching.

Our people started painting with single hatching. Afterwards they started painting cross hatching. It makes it look really good but it’s still x-ray style. That’s the way for me. X-ray style is important, it shows the anatomy; heart, liver, lungs.  It’s about what’s inside the animal’s body. I like painting both styles, cross hatching and x-ray style and merging both to create my new style. I put the background and then build up layers of lines for decoration and overlapping on top of each other, combining like Rock art. Sometimes I paint on both layers and it comes through. I get ideas from my imagination and from the rock art to make my designs. I want people to feel the spirits and the elders who were doing those styles when they look at my paintings. I want them to feel and touch how it was done, to see the past continuing in the present.

Gabriel Maralngurra

Size 61 x 41 cm | Medium Paper | Catalogue # 1299-21 | Year 2021

1 in stock

Artist  Gabriel Maralngurra

Gabriel Maralngurra was among the founding members of Injalak Arts in the late 1980s, and continues to be a driving force behind the art centre today. Painting at Injalak since 1989 Gabriel’s artistic practice is reflected in the breadth and depth of the subjects he paints, his fluent linework and highly original compositions. Maralngurra’s work can be seen in periods, both in terms of style and subject matter, as he explores one artistic avenue after another. However behind this tireless experimentation his own confident and fluid style is unmistakeable, always balancing studied naturalism with a strong sense of design and stylisation. He attributes much of his artistic education to senior painter Thompson Yulidjirri in the early days of Injalak.

He is continually inspired by the rock art of West Arnhem Land, always referencing and working within this artistic tradition while pursuing formal innovations and new designs. His knowledge of stories, plants and animals gives him a wide range expressive material. His work has also explored the contact period in the Gunbalanya area, culminating in a solo exhibition ‘Contact’ at Mossenson Galleries in Melbourne in 2006.

He is an ambassador and mediator for Kunwinjku culture, having worked many years as a tour guide, Kunwinjku-English translator, Injalak board member and president, screenprinter and travelling widely around Australia for openings and launches. He is currently Co-Manager of Injalak. In September 1995 he travelled to Shanghai to represent the art centre at an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Exhibition of paintings from Injalak.

As a founder, it is in large part Maralngurra’s vision and belief in the mission of the art centre that has allowed it to carry on and thrive. He has helped create a place where the Art History of West Arnhem Land can be continued, developed, experienced by others and apprenticed to younger generations.  

In January 2020, Gabriel undertook a residency at the Kluge Ruhe Collection in Virginia while he opened two exhibitions of work.


further details

Size 61 x 41 cm
Medium  Paper
Catalogue # 1299-21
Year 2021