Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA)’s major celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, returns next month with more than 1500 artists exhibiting across 27 venues around the state.

Leading this year’s program is the first-ever survey exhibition of Western Arrernte artist Vincent Namatjira, who in 2020 was the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize for his portrait of ex-AFL player and community leader Adam Goodes. He also received the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize for his irreverent double-sided work featuring a self-portrait on one side and a depiction of Captain Cook on the other.

Vincent Namatjira: Australia in Colour will feature works from the satirical portraitist that offer a wry look at the country’s history, power and leadership, including new paintings, works never before on public display and rarely seen works from public and private collections. Namatjira has also selected works from AGSA’s collection by his great-grandfather Albert Namatjira, one of his greatest inspirations.

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The festival will kick off with a free public event on Thursday October 19, featuring a performance by celebrated singer-songwriter and Arrernte/Gurindji man Dan Sultan. And the popular Tarnanthi Art Fair will return as a physical event for the first time since 2020, this time held at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (from October 20 to 22), offering audiences an opportunity to meet First Nations artists from across the country and providing an ethical marketplace of thousands of works for sale; all proceeds go directly to the artists and community-run art centres.

Also among the highlights: a suite of paintings and a moving image by senior Kartujarra artist Bugai Whyoulter that transports us through the salt lakes and sand dunes of her Country, Wantili; Black Speed by the festival’s youngest artist, 23-year-old Ray Mudjandi, whose work expresses his Bininj and Western Arrernte culture and identity as well as his love of pop culture, contemporary film, comics and superheroes; and Pride by Ngarigo artist Peter Waples-Crowe, a defiant celebration of Blak queerness showing at Ace Gallery.

Participating artists, from as far north as Arnhem Land to the heart of the Great Victoria Desert and beyond, work in diverse mediums: painting, photography, weaving, carving, sculpture, moving image, works on paper and textiles.

“Tarnanthi fosters opportunities for First Nations artists at all stages of their careers, opening up new pathways for creative talents,” Tarnanthi’s artistic director, Barkandji curator Nici Cumpston OAM, said in a press release. “Artists from across the country have been making new works that highlight the dynamism and diversity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures today. It is a privilege to share their voices through Tarnanthi and to bring this world-class art experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to audiences again in 2023.”

Tarnanthi runs from October 20 to January 21 at AGSA and venues around the state.

See the full program online.

@taranthi