Tarnanthi 2023 to showcase the ‘dynamism and diversity’ of First Nations art

More than 1500 First Nations artists from across Australia will feature in this year’s Tarnanthi Festival, which includes a major exhibition of work by the multi-award-winning Vincent Namatjira and will see the annual Tarnanthi Art Fair return as an in-person event ­at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Sep 12, 2023, updated Sep 12, 2023
Vincent Namatjira with his work 'Going Out Bush', projected on the Art Gallery of South Australia facade during Illuminate Adelaide 2022. Photo: Sia Duff / supplied

Vincent Namatjira with his work 'Going Out Bush', projected on the Art Gallery of South Australia facade during Illuminate Adelaide 2022. Photo: Sia Duff / supplied

The state-wide festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia, will encompass dozens of events and exhibitions at 27 different venues from October 20 to January 21.

AGSA says Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira’s first survey exhibition, Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour, will feature works offering “a wry look at the politics of history, power and leadership”, including new paintings and works never or rarely displayed publicly before.

Namatjira, the great-grandson of celebrated painter Albert Namatjira, won the Archibald Prize in 2020 with a portrait of footballer Adam Goodes and the Ramsay Art Prize in 2019 with a double-sided painting on plywood featuring a self-portrait on one side and Captain James Cook on the other. During the 2022 Illuminate Adelaide festival, the façade of the Art Gallery of SA was brought to life with a projected animated work by Vincent that combined landscape elements from his adopted home of Indulkana in the APY Lands and from his great-grandfather’s Country around Ntaria (Hermannsburg).

The artist says in a statement that painting is in his blood, and he feels Albert Namatjira’s influence when he paints: “The connection runs deep and it has shaped who I am as an artist. I’m proud to be continuing the Namatjira legacy.

“I respect the old people – their strong culture, their knowledge and their art – but a young fella like me doesn’t want to make traditional paintings. Just like Albert Namatjira, I wanted to find my own way, to find my own voice and to be heard.”

Namatjira has selected some of Albert Namatjira’s works from AGSA’s collection to be displayed during Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour, which will travel to the National Gallery in Canberra next year after premiering in Adelaide.

As announced last month, Tarnanthi 2023 will officially open on October 19 with a free public event on the Art Gallery forecourt featuring a performance by six-time ARIA-Award-winning singer-songwriter Dan Sultan.

Tarnanthi artistic director Nici Cumpston says artists from across the country have been making new works that highlight “the dynamism and diversity” in contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures.

Judith Pungarta Inkamala with her work for Tarnanthi 2023 at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) in the Northern Territory. Photo: Bec Capp / supplied

The festival exhibitions encompass media including painting, photography, weaving, carving, sculpture, moving image, works on paper, and textiles.

The art on display at AGSA will range from woven baskets by the Kunwinjku women of Gunbalanya in west Arnhem Land and intricately painted hand-built clay forms by Judith Pungarta Inkamala, a senior member of the Hermannsburg Potters in Central Australia, to bodies of work reflecting eclectic pop culture influences. Among the latter are bright paintings by Yankunytjatjara artist Tiger Yaltangki that incorporate imagery from recycled AC/DC posters.

The popular annual Tarnanthi Art Fair moved to an online-only event post-COVID, but will this year be presented as a live event at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre from October 20-22 so art lovers can once again meet and buy works direct from artists. All proceeds from the fair go direct to artists and their communities, with the online portal still being available for those who wish to browse and buy online.

Tarnanthi 2023 artist Tiger Yaltangki with his work. Photo: Rhett Hammerton / supplied

Among the exhibitions and events being presented across the state, one highlight will be Saltbush Country, a partnership between AGSA and Country Arts SA bringing together works by seven First Nations artists from regional South Australia. Country Arts SA says their work, “often personal and occasionally raw”, is a contemporary articulation of Aboriginal life in regional south Australia and includes weaving, painting, textiles and fibre work, sculpture, large-scale installation and jewellery.

Curated by Wangkanurra artist and Port Pirie-based curator Marika Davies, Saltbush Country will be presented in Port Pirie from September 23 and then at the Hawke Centre’s Kerry Packer Civic Gallery from November 16.

Other venues presenting exhibitions during Tarnanthi range from JamFactory, Port Adelaide’s Post Office Projects and Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (which is currently showing Ngarigo multi-disciplinary artist Peter Waples-Crowe’s PRIDE), to Adelaide Railway Station and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Cumpston says partnerships are a cornerstone of Tarnanthi, with other projects this year including a dance development opportunity with Australian Dance Theatre, and opportunities for First Nations writers to engage with Tarnanthi exhibitions.

“Year after year, the number and diversity of potential project ideas for Tarnanthi continues to grow… Nurturing this creative energy strengthens culture, improves wellbeing, enriches communities and, through the shared experience of art, brings all of us closer together as we learn from and engage meaningfully with each other,” Cumpston says.

Tarnanthi 2023 will run from October 20 until January 21, 2024. Full program details can be found here.

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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