The Archibald Prize (or the Archie as Aussies call it) is the most prestigious portrait prize in Australia. Awarded annually since 1921, it’s almost a hundred years later and in 2020 we’ve finally had our first indigenous winner.
The competition stipulates the portrait represent a ‘distinguished man or women preferably in Art, Letters, Science or Politics’, painted in the past year and on Aussie turf. As you can imagine that means plenty of great celebrity portraits which garners a fair amount of interest from the general public. And this year’s winning subject, Adam Goodes is no different.
An accomplished sportsman, twice winner of the Brownlow medal and Australian of the Year, indigenous player Goodes made headlines when he was forced into early retirement at the height of his AFL (Australian Football League) career by persistent, unchecked racist abuse. (After public pressure and two revealing documentaries, the AFL finally made a formal apology to Goodes in 2019).
The winning portrait titled ‘Stand strong for who you are’ shows artist, Vincent Namatjira clasping hands in a show of solidarity with Adam Goodes. In the background there is Goodes the champion footballer, Goodes responding to racial vilification, and Goodes standing firm with the Aboriginal flag. The red footprints are the record of the path they have walked.
As a kid growing up Namatjira was inspired by Goodes athletic prowess and sportsmanship combined with his public stand against racism. But was able to connect with him in 2018 when Goodes came to his local school in Indulkana to promote indigenous literacy. After viewing the documentary ‘The Final Quarter’ about Goodes final AFL season in 2019, Namatjira was moved to reach out and reconnect with Goodes.
The great-grandson of famed watercolour painter, Albert Namatjira, Vincent’s star is firmly on the rise having won the Art Basel in Miami in 2018, the 2019 Ramsay art prize and receiving an Order of Australia in 2020.