Vincent Namatjira: Coming to America
Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara artist Vincent Namatjira was recently in Miami for Art Basel, one of the biggest art fairs in the world, where he was the first Aboriginal Australian to ever exhibit. These paintings were inspired by his trip. He paints himself, or a cartoonish and exaggerated caricature of himself, into the role of cliched American tourist. He pops up at the Hollywood sign, on Miami Beach and grinning in front of the White House. “These aren’t just tourist happy-snap selfies,” says the artist in his statement. “These self-portraits are about pride, presence, strength and resilience.”
Alongside the colourful selfie-esque paintings, there’s a series of 16 smaller portraits of prominent Australians – called Australia in Black and White (2018) – including Captain Cook, Pauline Hanson, Adam Goodes and Gina Rinehart. It’s a subversive juxtaposition – the man from remote Indulkana in South Australia in living colour, on the world stage, with the country’s most prominent figures pushed to the side, in black and white.