In 2018 Indigenous Australian artist Vincent Namatjira traveled to the US to attend Art Basel Miami. It was the first time Vincent had traveled outside of Australia, and the first time an Indigenous Australian artist had presented a solo exhibition at the prestigious art fair. Coming To America at This Is No Fantasy is a reflection on this trip, taking its name from the 1988 Eddie Murphy of the same name. ‘Like Murphy’s character Prince Akeem, I felt a bit like a stranger in a strange land when I visited LA and Miami – I actually felt a bit like Crocodile Dundee too, a bloke from the bush traveling in the city’, recalls Vincent of the experience.
In this series, Vincent himself in front of iconic American scenes and monuments like the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (where a mustachioed, baseball cap-wearing Vincent points down to a star of his own name), the Hollywood Hills and The Whitehouse. The tone is undoubtedly infused with a cheeky sense of humor, a technique Vincent uses to ‘…take the power out of a serious situation’, but his work also makes a significant statement on race, politics, and colonialism.
‘I’ve inserted the Aboriginal flag into all of these paintings to show that these aren’t just tourist happy-snap selfies, these self-portraits are about pride, presence, strength, and resilience – these attributes travel with me wherever I go, whether it’s within Australia or anywhere around the world,’ he explains.
Vincent’s work has been shown in exhibitions around the world, and is held in Namatjira’s work is held in significant institutional collections including the British Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia and Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art. He was awarded the Art Gallery of South Australia’s $100,000 Ramsay Prize in 2019.