It’s fourth time lucky for Vincent Namatjira, great-grandson of acclaimed artist Albert Namatjira, who has become the first Indigenous Australian to win the $100,000 Archibald Prize in its 99-year history. The Western Arrernte artist was an Archibald finalist for the fourth consecutive year in 2020 (having been the runner up in 2018), with a double-portrait featuring himself alongside former AFL player and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, entitled Stand Strong for Who You Are.
Archibald Prize won by Vincent Namatjira with self portrait alongside Adam Goodes
Accepting the award via Zoom from the APY Lands, where he lives, Namatjira said: “What an honour it is to be the first Indigenous winner of the Archibald Prize. It only took 99 years!”
Vincent Namatjira is the first Indigenous Australian to win the Archibald Prize.
Namatjira won against a field of finalists that includes former Archibald Prize winners Louise Hearman, Nicholas Harding, Craig Ruddy, Marcus Wills, Wendy Sharpe and Guy Maestri.
Of the 56 artists, 25 are female and 31 male
The win comes off the back of an incredible 18 months for Namatjira, who won the $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize in 2019.
Namatjira first met Goodes in 2018, when he visited Indulkana, where the artist lives, to promote Indigenous literacy.
But he had been a fan of the footballer since childhood, writing in his artist statement:
“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.”
Announcing the award, David Gonski, President of the Art Gallery of NSW Board of Trustees — who choose the finalists and winner of Archibald Prize — read a statement from Goodes: ”I am thrilled that an Indigenous artist, Vincent Namatjira, has won the Archibald Prize for the first time. And I am so pleased that it shines a light on all Indigenous art. We have a 60,000 year history of art and culture in our people, and we share this knowledge and gift of culture with all Australia.”