On Country: Melbourne Art Fair 2022

17 - 20 Feb 2022

THIS IS NO FANTASY is excited to present a new series from Vincent Namatjira at the 2022 Melbourne Art Fair.

‘The paintings in this series are called ‘On Country’ and are inspired by a trip I took to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in late 2020. That’s where I was born and grew up, so in some ways it feels like home for me. I painted on country there, with large canvases set up on my easel in a dry riverbed. I had to work fast, the hot sun was drying out my colours and the flies were buzzing all around me. Being on country and painting the landscape made me think a lot about my great-grandfather Albert Namatjira and his way of working. I was having a lot of memories from my childhood and feeling my family’s strong connection to country. It was a powerful experience and led to me making these works, that are portraits of country and portraits of people at the same time.

I painted different figures int the landscapes of Arrernte Country – the figures I’ve chosen are people who have shaped this country for better or worse, in small or large ways. Some are imposing figures, and their mark on this country’s history is deeply felt. Others are more personal, and have been drawn into my world through their impact and influence on me, like the rock n roll renegades Chuck Berry and Angus Young.

For me, loud rock music is escapism – it was for me as a teenager in the foster system and it still is now. Life in a remote Aboriginal community is challenging, sometimes I’ve just got to get in my studio and turn up the volume to block out the outside world and just paint. I’ve included a country musician too, this is a nod to the old men who have influenced me, like my father-in-law Kunmanara (Jimmy) Pompey – these old men are artists and former stockmen, and they love their country music, especially Charley Pride, who they liked to think was Anangu like them.’ – Vincent Namatjira


documentation by Simon Strong