Vincent Namatjira describes his portrait subject, Adam Goodes, as ‘a proud Aboriginal man who stands strong for his people’. He says: ‘I first met Adam in 2018, when he visited the school in Indulkana where I live, 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.’
Namatjira has painted himself alongside Goodes in this portrait. It is the fourth time in the Archibald Prize for the Western Aranda artist, who was born in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in 1983.
This portrait, the first by an Aboriginal artist to win the Archibald Prize, is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW.