Vincent Namatjira is the first Aboriginal artist to win the Archibald Prize in its 99-year history, with his portrait, titled Stand strong for who you are.
Speaking via video link at today’s announcement, from the remote community of Indulkana, the great grandson of the renowned artist Albert Namatjira said he was so excited to receive the award.
"It only took 99 years," he said.
“I’m so proud to be the winner of the Archibald Prize, and to be the first Aboriginal artist to win is really special," he said.
"I feel like this is a very important moment in Australian art. It’s an honour to be the first, but I also want to acknowledge all of the Indigenous finalists and Indigenous sitters for the Archibald this year and in past years."
The winning piece was one of ten Archibald Prize 2020 finalist portraits featuring an Indigenous sitter.
Inspired by the 2019 documentary The Final Quarter, Namatjira reconnect with Goodes and create the work.
The pair first met in 2018 when Goodes visited the school in Indulkana, as part of his work promoting Indigenous literacy.
“When I saw the documentary The Final Quarter about Adam’s final season of AFL, my guts were churning as I relived Adam’s experiences of relentless racism on and off the field. Memories of my own experiences were stirred up and I wanted to reach out and reconnect with Adam.
"We share some similar stories and experiences – of disconnection from culture, language and Country, and the constant pressures of being an Aboriginal man in this country. We’ve also both got young daughters and don’t want them to have to go through those same experiences.
“When I was younger and growing up in the foster system in Perth, Indigenous footballers were like heroes to me. Goodesy is much more than a great footballer though, he took a strong stand against racism and said, ‘enough is enough’. I stand strong with you too, brother,” said Namatjira.
Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said Namatjira’s painting was selected as one of 55 finalists and then as the winner from a record number of 1068 entries for the Archibald Prize.
“I am delighted that Vincent Namatjira has become the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Adam Goodes. Painted in a uniquely personal style, it also features Vincent himself, pointing to Adam as a great Australian,” said Brand.
“Vincent’s work shows how much portrait painting still has to say and what strong voices our Indigenous artists have. I commend the Board of Trustees both for their choice of winner and for the respect they have shown to all the artists during the judging process,” he said.
Wynne Prize awarded to NT artist
Western Arrernte artist Hubert Pareroultja won the Wynne Prize 2020 for his painting of his Central Australian country Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges).
The Wynne Prize is awarded for 'the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or best sculpture.
Pareroultja’s painting represents the story of the Yeperenye or giant caterpillars - Tjoritja the West MacDonnell Ranges.
Speaking from Alice Springs via video link, the artist said was very happy to receive the award.
“I am proud that my work is appreciated and seen by so many people down south. I’m am real happy. It’s important to me, because it’s my Country,” Pareroultja said.