VINCENT Namatjira has won the 99th Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for his portrait of champion Aussie Rules footballer and community leader, Adam Goodes.
An Archibald Prize finalist for four consecutive years, Namatjira is the first Aboriginal artist to win the $100,000 prize, and said by video link from Indulkana in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, “what an honour… it only took 99 years”.
In “Stand Strong For Who You Are”, Namatjira has painted himself alongside Goodes, whom he describes as “a proud Aboriginal man who stands strong for his people”. He also acknowledged all the Indigenous finalists and Indigenous sitters for the Archibald this year and in past years.
“When I was younger and growing up in the foster system in Perth, Indigenous footballers were like heroes to me. Goodesy is much more than a great footballer though, he took a strong stand against racism and said, ‘enough is enough’. I stand strong with you too, brother,” Namatjira said.
His winning work, selected as one of 55 finalists and then as the winner from a record number of 1068 entries for the Archibald, was one one of 10 Archibald Prize 2020 finalist portraits featuring an Indigenous sitter, a new and proud record for the prize, AGNSW director Michael Brand said.
Board of Trustees president, David Gonski, said, “We were impressed by the large number this year of excellent entries, but the winning entry drew us all towards it and was compelling. The decision was a unanimous one”.
Unusually, this year the Trustees awarded a highly commended honour to six-time Archibald finalist Tsering Hannaford for her “Self-Portrait after Allegory of Painting”, inspired by Artemisia Gentileschi’s famous portrait.
The Wynne Prize for the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists, went to first-time Wynne finalist Hubert Pareroultja, a Western Aranda man from the Northern Territory for his painting “Tjoritja” (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT) which represents the story of the giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye that became the ranges in the distant past.
“When I heard the story of my winning I was in shock. It was like I was somewhere else, in outer space. The work is really detailed. I put in a lot of details and it was hard work. I like it this way,” Pareroultja said.
As well, Nyunmiti Burton from the the APY Lands in South Australia has been recognised as a highly commended finalist in the Wynne and was also awarded the $10,000 Roberts Family Prize for her work “Seven Sisters”.
Finalists in the Wynne were also eligible for the Trustees’ Watercolour Prize valued at $5,000, which went to Sydney artist Julianne Ross Allcorn’s watercolour triptych, “Mollitium 2”, celebrating the resilience of the Australian bush.
The Sulman Prize, valued at $40,000, is awarded for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist, went to Marikit Santiago for her work, “The Divine”, judged this year by artist Khadim Ali, who selected 18 finalists for the prize.
Santiago described her painting as “a deeply personal work made about and with my three children”.
The painting portrays Santiago’s three children, who often collaborate with her in her creative processes and the pen and paint markings in the work were made by Maella, aged five; Santiago, aged three; and Sarita, aged one.
All finalists will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW, The Domain, Sydney, open daily, (closed Christmas Day) from September 26 to January 10. Timed tickets here.
Finalist works in the Archibald Prize 2020 will also tour regional New South Wales and Queensland from January 22.