National Gallery of Australia

Image caption: Vincent Namatjira, Western Aranda people, Northern Territory, born Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Northern Territory 1983, Australia in colour (detail) 2021, Indulkana, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on linen (21 panels), 51.0 x 76.0 cm (each), Purchased in celebration of the National Gallery of Australia’s 40th anniversary, 2022, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra © Vincent Namatjira

The Projection

To celebrate the launch of Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour, the National Gallery has commissioned a new projection and sound-based work by Namatjira to illuminate the building’s exterior for the 2024 Enlighten Festival. The commission will be projected onto the architecture of the National Gallery’s 60 metre western façade and feature a composite video/animation bringing the artist’s works of art to life.

Presented in chapters, Vincent Namatjira’s Enlighten projection work for 2024 welcomes the audience to step simultaneously into the past, present and future, in a celebration of Namatjira’s Indigenous heroes.
The work highlights individual figures featured in Namatjira’s Australia in Colour work from the National Gallery’s collection – Eddie Mabo, Adam Goodes, Vincent Lingiari, Albert Namatjira. Portraits that highlight leadership, strength and resilience, urging us to respect the elders and to remember those who have come before. The work will build in energy as it highlights current heroes of our time.

The projection is accompanied by an original score created by Vincent Namatjira in collaboration with Jeremy Whiskey (Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara guitarist-composer from Indulkana, APY Lands, SA) in Alice Springs.

The Artist

A painter from Indulkana in South Australia, Vincent Namatjira has established himself as a subversive and witty portraitist. Vincent is the great-grandson of the renowned Western Aranda watercolour artist Albert Namatjira. Since 2013, Vincent has been painting portraits of important figures, both personally familiar and famously political. He is an acute observer of national and international politics and the connections between leadership, wealth, power and influence.

Bold, painterly and conceptually rich, Vincent Namatjira’s work has gained significant recognition in Australia and abroad. Namatjira’s imagery calls on Australia’s colonial history, with recurring references to Captain Cook, the British Royal family and contemporary aspects of Indigenous life. Namatjira simultaneously channels his own personal history, inserting himself (via a recurring self-portrait) into the narrative of his often humorous compositions, which conflate past and present into compelling scenarios.

Vincent Namatjira was the winner of the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize. In 2020 Namatjira was the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize, and was recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 2020 in honour of his contribution to Indigenous visual arts.