‘Medicine man is a goodie, his superpower is that he can shrink and go inside the body.’
Ray Mudjandi, from Mirarr and Western Arrernte clans, is an artist living in Djibiorrk in Kakadu National Park. Ray was born in Garramilla/Darwin and grew up between Djibiorrk and Katherine.
As a young child he experienced and overcame several serious health conditions, experiences that have influenced his creative practice.
As a teenager, Ray was mentored by Western Arnhem and Kakadu National Park senior cultural artists Graham Rostron and Abel Naborlhborlh. He also began working with artist Damien Kamholtz. Their collaborations informed Ray's first exhibition, a solo show at Outstation Gallery when he was 16 years old. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory acquired the entire exhibition for its Aboriginal Art and Material Culture collection.
Ray now works through Marrawuddi Art & Culture in Jabiru. He is constantly creating superhero characters with intricate narratives, often in response to his surroundings and issues that affect him and his community.
‘Virus Man is a bad guy, a villain; he wants to try and destroy the world by making everyone sick. He goes up people’s nose, he knocks them down, dead.’
Virus Man’s league of evil include Birndu Man, half man half mosquito and Poison Man also known as Death Shadow.
The contrast and synergy between contemporary Pop culture and Bininj culture is at the heart of Mudjandi’s work. Birndu Man is derived from Bininj Dreaming stories and appears in rock art sites in Kakadu National Park. Mudjandi worked closely with senior Kakadu artist and mentor Abel Naborlhborlh in the creation of the Birndu man character.
‘I’ve seen that painting and old people told me that story. He’s a bad man. Kills Bininj; sucks all their blood out.’ says Naborlhborlh talking about Birndu Man.
To combat the evil, Medicine Man is joined by new character Vaccine Man.
‘Vaccine man, he came to Medicine Man in 2022 when the virus was in communities. Both give strength to Bininj, they go inside the body and give strength. They protect people.’