In 2020, Vincent Namatjira became the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize with his portrait of former AFL player Adam Goodes. That painting, Stand strong for who you are, is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
A Western Aranda man, Namatjira lives in Indulkana in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia.
‘Putting myself in a position of power and influence like this – sitting on a throne – puts me way out of my comfort zone,’ he says of this self-portrait, with its references to royal portraits.
‘My studio workboots and the old paint buckets are a bit like me – totally out of place in this formal setting. This space is usually reserved for royalty, and if I want to take it over, I’ve got to build up my confidence, and I’m going to need some protection. I need a paintbrush – that’s my weapon – because for me, painting means pride and the power to change things. The dingo is a protector, there to guard me. The Queen’s got her corgis by her side, you know, so I’ve got my dingo … Just as long as it doesn’t pee on the carpet.’
This is Namatjira’s fifth time in the Archibald. He is also a finalist in this year’s Sulman Prize.