Nabadbara began painting on Croker Island from as early as 1941 at the mission at Minjilang. The bark paintings Paddy Compass Nabadbara produced are amongst the most fluid and uninhibited to be found anywhere. Many of his paintings are overtly sexual and show deformed beings associated with sorcery. The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Paddy Compass Nabadbara by comparing examples of his works.
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His style is distinctly Crocker Island and his art really shines when it come to depicting spirits on bark paintings such as mimi and maam. He was not nearly as prolific as some other Bark Painting artists from this region such as Yirawala. You could argue his barks are not as refined as some but his depiction of spirits in my opinion are unsurpassed in their raw power. He also demonstrates a strong lack of western convention as to how things “should” be painted.
Paddy Compass Nabadbara’s early works show male and female genitals in exaggerated proportions and have sinuous limbs. What probably distinguishes Nabadbara and his bark painting more than any other single feature though is the depiction of the faces of the spirits. The faces are most usually white with the mouth depicted almost like an ants pincers. He often draws the eyes one above the other in a near vertical fashion using solid black dots. Nabadbara is not the only bark painting artist to depict the faces in such a way but it is a very useful indicator. His works could be mistaken for other Crocker Island artists such as January Nonganyari, Jimmy Midjau Midjau, Samuel Wagbara or even early works by Yirrwala.
Paddy Compass Nabadbara also depicts animals on his bark paintings. These include fish, echidna and turtles. I do not think this is where his bark paintings excel though. His barks of animals are not particularly detailed and are comparably crude. This crude coarse style when used on spirit figures seems to give them a strength of simplicity and power. When used on animals it can just look stark.
Paddy Compass Nabadbara Images
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