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You are here: Home arrow Artists arrow Painters arrow Roy Burnyila
Roy Burnyila PDF Print E-mail



Date of birth : 1955

Language :Ganalbingu

Clan : Gurrumba Gurrumba

Social Affiliations :  Yirritja moiety, Bangadi subsection


Born in the bush on the mainland opposite Milingimbi, a prolific and very collectible painter, Roy Burnyila depicts the traditional subject matter of his group, the Ganalbingu people. Roy’s style is distinctive as his palette tends toward light yellow and whites which are offset by the black he puts in the cross-hatching. His cross-hatching is different in that it is 'old fashioned' single colour line cross-hatching as against the more familiar grouping of lines by colour. Here lines of the same colour are laid down in fours, fives, or more before going onto the next colour. Although artists are instructed by master painters, the number of lines of each colour and the angling of their intersection in their work is like the signature of each artist.

As a dancer, Burnyila has travelled with the David Gulpilil Dance Group and other groups both internationally and throughout south eastern Australia. In 1985, he lived with the Aboriginal community in Campbelltown, NSW, as an Artist-in-Residence. In 1986 he exhibited with older painter Tom Djumburpur at the Anima Gallery, Adelaide - Roy Burnyila - Tom Djumburpur.

In 1988 the artists of Ramingining and related communities made “The Aboriginal Memorial”. This installation was exhibited at the Biennial of Sydney - Beneath the Southern Cross and included several of Roy's poles. Later in the year the collection was placed in the National Gallery of Australia where it is permanently on display. Roy, with fellow artists David Malangi and George Milpurrurru, travelled to Canberra to sing and consecrate “The Aboriginal Memorial” into place.

Burnyila’s "country" includes the Arafura Swamp. This fresh-water swamp is a unique area and was listed on the National Heritage Estate by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 1994. The Arafura Swamp comprises over 200 square miles of large fresh-water-holes and marsh land teeming with animal, bird, fish and insect life which Burnyila depicts in his art.

Roys paintings feature in the website Twelve Canoes, (www.twelvecanoes.com) a rich website which provides much insight into the world of the Yolngu from the Ramingining region.

Select Group Exhibitions
1983, Mulgurrum Outstations, Ewing Paton Gallery, Melbourne
1986, Roy Burnyila and Tom Djumburpur, Anima Galleries, Adelaide
1988, Biennale of Sydney, Aboriginal Memorial, Pier One, Sydney
1990, Ramingining Art, Birukmarri Gallery, Fremantle.
1991, Art from the Arafura Swamp, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
1994, Canvassing, 24 Hour Art, Darwin, NT
1996, Islands: Contemporary Installations, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1996, Bula’bula Arts, Ramingining, Anima Gallery, Adelaide
1998, Art Gallery Culture Store, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
1998, Dreamings, Vlaams-Europeesch Conferentiecentrum, Brussels, Belgium
1998, Dreamings, Spazio Pitti Arte, Florence, Italy
1998, Art Centre Meerzigt, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
1999, Ramingining Artists Show, High on Art, Melbourne
1999, Le Memorial un chef-d'oeuvre d'art aborigine, Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia; Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
2000, Ramingining artists, Cooee Gallery, Sydney
2000, 17th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, MAGNT
2000, Aboriginal Art in Modern Worlds, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
2000, Ramingining Bula’bula, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA
2002, The Nineteenth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards,
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
2002, A Taste of Aboriginal Art, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA
2003, Out of the Dilly Bag, Bright!, St Kilda, Victoria
2003, Resonance: Recent works from Ramingining, Hill-Smith Fine Art Gallery,
2003, Sydney Aboriginal & Oceanic Art Fair, Circular Quay, Sydney
2004, Palya Art, Kew, Victoria
2004, Artists from Ramingining, Framed Gallery, Darwin
2004, Dupun, Djalumbu, Badurru - Hollow logs from Ramingining, Gallery Gabrielle
Pizzi, Melbourne
2004, Ramingining Rom: Paintings and Objects from Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal
Corporation, Fremantle Arts Centre, Western Australia
2004, Ramingining Artists, Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide
2005, Gamununggu Ganalbingu: Ganalbingu Painters, Indigenart, Perth, Western Australia
2005, Pandanus to Paper: weavings and prints from Bula’bula Arts, Northern Editions, Charles Darwin University, Darwin
2006, Bula’bula Arts in 3D, Gallerie Australis, Adelaide
2006, Out of the Dilly Bag and into the Canoe, Brightspace! St Kilda
2006, Many many canoes: An exhibition in celebration of the film Ten Canoes, Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide
2006, Australian Aboriginal Art, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA2006, Bark Paintings, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne

Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth

1992, ‘Aboriginal Art’, National Gallery News, 10th Birthday edition, September/October 1992, p. 5-7. 

1985, Artist in Residence, Campbelltown Community, NSW

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Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation