On Display: QAG, Gallery 2
In May 2014, Vincent Namatjira visited the Queensland Art Gallery to see the watercolours of his great-grandfather, Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s most recognised Indigenous artists. But it was William Dargie’s 1956 Archibald Prize-winning portrait of his great-grandfather that affected him most.
This experience inspired his 2014 Archibald Prize entry, Albert and Vincent 2014. Namatjira spent many hours in the Gallery, leaning a small mirror against a plinth so that he could view and sketch himself with the portrait of his great-grandfather. He took the sketches home to remote central Australia and finished the painting there.
Vincent Namatjira is one of the many great-grandchildren Albert was never able to meet. Through his portraits of his great-grandfather, Vincent is building his own connections to the Australian hero, while giving viewers a sense of the importance of Albert’s story and legacy within his own family.
Vincent Namatjira was born in 1983 in Alice Springs. A descendant of renowned landscape artist Albert Namatjira, he is known for his idiosyncratic and often witty portraits of important historical and political figures.
As a child he lived at Hermannsburg in Ntaria country, south-west of Alice Springs, but, following his mother’s death when he was six, he and his older sister were sent to live in foster care in Perth. When he turned 18, he returned to Hermannsburg with his sister to search for their family. While living there, he watched his Auntie Eileen Namatjira, a leader of the celebrated Hermannsburg Potters, create art about her country and the family legacy.
Vincent Namatjira began painting in 2011, encouraged by his wife and father-in-law, who are both artists. Although he never met his great-grandfather, he drew inspiration from Albert Namatjira’s unique vision of country.