LANGUAGE GROUP: Yolngu
COMMUNITY: Yilpara, NT
Napuwarri's moiety is Yirritja. He is from the Madarrpa clan and his homeland is Yilpara. He is the son of the great artist Bakulangay Marawili. In the last years of his life, Napuwarri worked closely with his father including on a number of collaborative works. He was endorsed as a legitimate artist of his clan's sacred designs by his father before his passing.
Napuwarri has been greatly influenced by his father's original style and has built up a versatile range of artistic skills. As well as dancing and singing in ceremony, he sculpts, paints and makes prints.
As a young man he travelled to the east coast and worked as a carpenter. He married a Murri woman from Cairns and had two children before he moved back to North east Arnhem Land. He has strong links to the Numbulwar community through his second wife Rita and spending time there as a child, before moving back to his family's Blue Mud Bay homeland of Yilpara in the 1980s. Napuwarri worked for Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre for two years before returning to live in Yilpara in 2006.
Napuwarri first came to wider attention in 2005 with the Yakumirri exhibition at Raft artspace in Darwin. The Holmes a Court Collection bought this set of paintings in its entirety. His first solo show was at Suzanne O'Connell Gallery in 2008. The National Gallery of Australia bought two works from this show. The Kerry Stokes Collection has also acquired his work.
In 2018 Napuwarri won the prize for Best bark painting in the 35th NATSIAA awards , he sung his manikay (clan song) to the crowd as he accepted this award. The bark was acquired by the Kluge Ruhe in the USA.
Copyright Kate Owen Gallery, April 2021