Vincent Namatjira’s seminal series ‘The Richest’ will tour nationally as part of ‘Just Not Australian’
The Richest is one of three groups of portraits collectively dealing with structures of power and different concepts of leadership and influence. The first series documents the seven prime ministers who have governed the country during the artist’s lifetime, while the second features seven senior Anangu men, artists and cultural leaders from the APY Lands. This third suite of portraits portrays the seven wealthiest Australians at the time of painting – Blair Parry-Okeden, Gina Rinehart, Harry Triguboff, Frank Lowy, Anthony Pratt, James Packer and John Gandel. Together they represent a larger body of work that contains the same themes from different perspectives.
“I am really interested in people in positions of power; people who have incredible wealth and influence. When I see politicians, world leaders, royalty, and other power-players on the news, I see this huge disconnect between their world and the day-to-day reality of life in a remote Aboriginal community. A lot of my recent paintings are about the reversal of power structures—displacing powerful figures takes away some of their dominance.” Namatjira
Just Not Australian engages with the moral and ethical undertones of the loaded rejoinder ‘un- Australian’ – a pejorative now embedded in our national vocabulary that continues to be used to further political agendas and to spread nationalistic ideals of what it means to be Australian. Far from a simple comparison, a consideration of what’s not Australian ultimately leads to questions of what is, and the artists in Just Not Australian consider this in detail.
This exhibition begins its national tour from 2020 which marks the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia, a timely moment to interrogate Australia’s colonial history and the complexities of presenting and representing national identity.