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Iwantja Arts Take To New York City, With A ‘Rock N Roll’ Exhibition!

Art

Archibald Prize-winning artist Vincent Namatjira and Sulman Prize-winning artist Kaylene Whiskey recently spent a week in ‘The Big Apple’ for their first ever New York City exhibition with Yankunytjatjara man Tiger Yaltangki at Fort Gansevoort gallery.

The Iwantja Arts artists, along with their friend from Indulkana, Johnny Doolan, spent the week seeing the sights, meeting art critics and curators, and sharing their exhibition ‘Iwantja Rock n Roll’, with a whole new audience!

25th August, 2022

From left to right: Yankunytjatjara man Tiger Yaltangki, Yankunytjatjara woman Kaylene Whiskey and Western Aranda man Vincent Namatjira. Photo – Rhett Hammerton.

Left: Vincent Namatjira, friend Johnny Doolan and Kaylene Whiskey in front of the Brooklyn Bridge! Right: Kaylene sports a ‘I Love NY’ tote bag. Photos – Courtesy of Iwantja Arts 

From left: Kaylene, Johnny and Vincent in front of Fort Gansevoort gallery. Photos – Courtesy of Iwantja Arts 

From left: Kaylene, Johnny and Vincent outside the iconic Katsz Deli! Photos – Courtesy of Iwantja Arts 

Left: ‘Party Time Today’, by Kaylene Whiskey. Right: Kaylene Whiskey. Photo – Rhett Hammerton.

Left: ‘Kungkas In Hollywood’, by Kaylene Whiskey. Right: ‘Dolly and Catgirl’, by Kaylene Whiskey.

Archibaled Prize-winning artist Vincent Namatjira sits in his studio in front of his work ‘Elizabeth and Vincent (On Country)’. Photo – Rhett Hammerton.

Clockwise from top left: ‘Elizabeth and Vincent (On Country)’, ‘Philip, Vincent, Elizabeth’, and ‘Elizabeth (On Country)’, by Vincent Namatjira.

Malpa Wiru’, by Tiger Yaltangki.

Yankunytjatjara man Tiger Yaltangki. Photo – Rhett Hammerton.

‘Malpa Wiru’ by Tiger Yaltangki. Image courtesay of Fort Gansevoort gallery. 

Bea Taylor
Thursday 25th August 2022

‘We respect the traditions of our Elders, but we’re also looking for new directions with our art.’ – Vincent Namatjira

‘We’re not in Indulkana anymore!’ 

This is what artists Vincent Namatjira and Kaylene Whiskey couldn’t help repeating to each other during their recent trip to New York City.

For one week, the artists swapped the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia, for bustling Manhattan life to open their new (and first ever) exhibition in New York,Iwantja Rock n Roll’, with Yankunytjatjara man Tiger Yaltangki at Fort Gansevoort gallery. 

The exhibition, which wrapped up last week, proved to be a truly memorable experience for the artists, who ticked off many ‘firsts’ during their trip! 

‘At the start we were nervous,’ explains Vincent. ‘The long flight was really tough, and then the city was huge and a bit overwhelming. But we had a lot of fun.’

In between meeting curators from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and critics from the New York Times, Vincent, Kaylene and their friend Johnny Doolan visited the Statue of Liberty, rode the Staten Island ferry, saw Times Square via bus tour, went bowling and tried all the ‘different – and always massive – food’!

‘We couldn’t believe the size of the food over there,’ Vincent says. ‘We’d buy a pizza and when it came out, it would be as big as the table!’

And, whilst the sights – and food – were unforgettable, it’s the recognition and exhibition of their work together that will remain their most special memory; ‘At our art centre, we all support each other, so we’re really proud to have had this special exhibition together,’ says Vincent. 

Iwantja Rock N Roll’ shared a glimpse into the lives of Vincent, Kaylene and Tiger in Central Australia – not only showcasing culture and Country, but also demonstrating that Indigenous artists from remote communities are creating beautiful and bold contemporary work, too. 

‘We respect the traditions of our Elders, but we’re also looking for new directions with our art,’ Vincent says. 

The title of the exhibition references the influence music has on all three artists’ works. Vincent explains, ‘I’m rocking the AC/DC t-shirt while meeting the Queen; Kaylene has painted her hero Dolly Parton; and Tiger’s mamu are playing electric guitars! We all have different styles, but our love of music is something that ties us together.’ 

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net