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Image – Left: Self Portrait (Miami Beach 1) by Vincent Namatjira. Right: Self Portrait (Miami Beach 2) by Vincent Namatjira.

Going To America With Vincent Namatjira

Sally Tabart
2nd July, 2019

After a standout show at Art Basel in 2018, the Indigenous Australian artist’s exhibition is both cheeky and powerful.

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.

Coming To America by Vincent Namatjira
June 29th – July 27th 
This Is No Fantasy 
108-110 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy, Victoria 

Sally Tabart
2nd July, 2019

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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