Desert artists finalists in Archibald Prize


p2523 Archibald Namatjira 430Two well-loved desert artists are among the finalists for Australia’s best known art prize, the Archibald, devoted to portraiture.
They are Vincent Namatjira (Studio self-portrait at right) and Tiger Yaltangki, both of whom live in Indulkana in the APY Lands and paint for Iwantja Arts.
Namatjira was also a finalist last year but it is the first time for  Yaltangki.
Both artists have painted self-portraits, but there’s a lot more going on as well.
Says Namatjira: “This is me in the studio, sitting and thinking after a hard day’s painting. In the background is the canvas I’m working on – so it’s really a painting within a painting. Painting is an ongoing battle; it’s me and the canvas, the paint and the brush. You never stop learning.
“I work in a busy art centre, and there’s always different music playing – country music, gospel, inma [cultural songs in language]. It must have been rock ’n’ roll on this day because I’ve put on the Kiss t-shirt and Chuck Berry is playing his guitar back there on the canvas.
“Behind the wheel of the green truck is my grandfather, Albert Namatjira. Painting is in my blood, it’s a part of our family. I admire the way that Albert made his own path with watercolour landscapes of his country. I’m finding my own way now with painting, and I want to keep fighting that battle in the studio every day.”
A work by Namatjira, a portrait of his illustrious great-grandfather Albert together with Rex Battarbee, is currently showing as part of the Alice Prize.
p2523 Archibald Yaltangki 430Yaltangki (Tiger (self-portrait) at left)has become a favourite of Alice audiences through Desert Mob shows over the last few years.
His canvases are bold and bright with lots of colour, combining the artist’s depictions of Mamu (supernatural spirits) – including things he witnesses in day-to-day life in the desert and his inherited knowledge of Yankunytatjara country – and his enthusiasm for rock ’n’ roll music such as AC/DC, Hank Williams, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. He is also a fan of science-fiction series such as Dr Who, Star Wars and the British mod-pop comedy, The mighty boosh.
Yaltangki has developed this into a signature style that has sparked interest nationally and overseas.
The exhibition opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on 12 May.
Numerous desert artists are also finalists in the Wynne Prize, specialising in landscape painting, showing at the same time as the Archibald, also at AGNSW.
Principle source: Art Gallery of New South Wales media release.


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