In association with the Spinifex Indigenous Art Projects we present:
Mick Rictor- Solo Exhibition
It is not hard to imagine Mick Rictor walking through the spinifex and over sand dunes, near naked, carrying only Kulata (spears) and miru (spear thrower). He would cut an imposing figure as he stood in classic pose, one foot tucked into groin, one hand clasping the upright spear for balance and surveying the nearby plains for game. It may sound romantic but Mick has the demeanor of having just walked in from this scenario and somehow dressed in appropriate clothing for community life. With his deep eyes peering from hirsute face and randomly dreadlocked hair it’s as if he was transposed from another time to be with us in present day. The truth is not that far removed.
Mick was a young man when he ‘walked in’ with his immediate family in 1986 after a life as a traditional hunter gatherer in the Great Victoria Desert. This officially makes him one of the ‘Last of the Nomads’ along with the other family members. Relatives travelling through the area had previously found signs that a group were ‘moving’ throughout the region and had made efforts to locate them. Mick was the eldest of three boys in the Rictor family and would have taken a lead role in the daily search for sustaining food including longer journeys in pursuit of larger game. It seems not much has changed for Mick today, as he sticks to a simple daily routine of walking to the community store, with his may dogs in tow, collecting food and returning to his camp. This was most of his interaction with other members of the community until he made apprehensive moves towards the Art Centre some two years ago.
The Spinifex Arts Project funded a ‘purpose built Art Centre’ at Tjuntjuntjara Community in 2015 and the building was sited not far from where Mick had his camp, that being a large green ‘spider hut’ surrounded by his guarding dogs and often with smoke billowing from the camp fire inside. Mick lived there alone, away from others and would often get agitated if children were in the vicinity as they had a history of teasing him. Mick likes his solitary life and doesn’t seem to need the company of others so we were hesitant as Mick began to frequent the Art Centre.
Micks approach to painting was at first a modest stance with the obligatory “I can’t paint” that, so many indigenous artists starting out protest. Mick did this even though he seemed to innately want to paint but the logistical necessities must have seemed insurmountable to him at the time. But by his second canvas Mick was comfortable painting and has not changed in the way he approaches a canvas since. He will sit with brush in hand staring at the primed linen positioned at his feet for some time, tilting his head, turning the frame sometimes to a complete 360 degrees, lifting it to rest upon his folded knees then placing it down again. Mick contemplates the blank space of the stretched linen like this, oblivious to his surrounds, checking the selection of paint pots in his box, almost mapping the colour spectrum in his mind. Then, as if a momentous decision has finally been made he begins, a colour is opened, then another, the brush delves deep lifting the paint out and carefully placing it upon the blackness, bringing light and form. And from the initial contemplation he intuitively moves the brush, stopping occasionally to study the progress, to tilt the head, to turn the frame. Once started Mick is calmly methodical and keen to make events unfold, often depicting ‘mamu tjina’ (sorcerer feet) and explaining the intricacies of such with his hysterical laughter. He paints in layers allowing two or more colours to meld and shimmer on the surface and when completed the works have a story of bold shapes that resonate with strong space of complementing colour that pulls the viewer in.
Micks journey to this point can only be described as incredible. Not only for the masterful painting he gives to us but his beneficial social interaction with other artists which seems to give him a quiet contentment and a wonderful means for his expression all in one.
Presented by Salon Indigenous Art Projects
Friday, August 10- Monday, August 20.