Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour at Art Gallery of South Australia

20 Oct 2023

A cornerstone of Tarnanthi 2023 at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, is the first survey exhibition of Vincent Namatjira OAM.

Renowned for producing paintings laden with dry wit, Namatjira has established himself in the past decade as a celebrated portraitist and a satirical chronicler of Australian identity. His paintings offer a wry look at the politics of history, power and leadership from a contemporary Aboriginal perspective. Namatjira often positions himself in this history – out of place and out of time – and in doing so he helps us to reconcile our complex and traumatic pasts.

Showcasing his expanding artistic practice, this significant exhibition titled Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour brings together 10 years of Namatjira’s practice across paintings, works on paper and moving image from public and private collections nationwide.

Curated as a collaboration with Namatjira, supported by Iwantja Arts, the exhibition charts Namatjira’s career. It reveals the power of his painting but also the potency of his words, with the artist’s voice at the forefront of the exhibition experience. The importance of having a voice and holding a space is not lost on Namatjira, having cultivated a distinct position in the story of Australian art and culture. These are the first words you’ll read as you enter the exhibition:

“Welcome to the past, present and future. I stand side by side with my great- grandfather, who I never met – two painters from the centre of this country, standing up and making our voices heard. Over there is James Cook, his ship has washed up in the desert. He’s sunburnt, lost. British royals are out of place, wandering in the sandy creeks, among the ghost gums. Indigenous leaders and legends are one with Country, becoming part of the desert landscape. The forgotten heroes, the red dirt, the rich and powerful, the orange rocks, the old stockmen, the white trees, the politicians, the blue sky, the singers and storytellers – this is Australia in colour.” — Namatjira

Following Tarnanthi 2023, Namatjira’s survey exhibition will travel to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra in 2024.

Experience Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour at Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide until 21 January 2024.