Tarnanthi 2023 | A festival of contemporary First Nations art

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) present this year’s iteration of Tarnanthi, the most eagerly awaited survey of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, from 20 October to 21 January 2024. The festival encourages new beginnings by providing artists with opportunities to create significant new work and to extend their practice through talks, tours, performances, workshops, creative activities, and education programs.

Christine Puruntatameri painting at the Munupi Arts & Crafts Centre, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, Northern Territory, 2021. Courtesy Munupi Arts and Craft Centre, Northern Territory

On 19 October, Tarnanthi launches with a Kaurna Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by Adelaide’s Kuma Kaaru, a keynote address by Western Arrernte/Yankunytjatjara artist and cultural leader Robert Fielding, and a free performance by Arrernte/Gurindji singer-songwriter Dan Sultan.

The opening weekend public program includes a series of artist talks as well as panpapanpalya, meaning conference in the Kaurna language, on 20 October in the AGSA courtyard – a cultural conference that pre-dates colonisation; a knowledge-sharing forum which now forms a critical part of Tarnanthi with leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, curators, academics, and writers sharing their insights.

As part of the Tarnanthi Festival, AGSA presents Australia in colour, from 20 October  to 21 January 2024, the first survey exhibition of acclaimed Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira – a satirical chronicler of Australian identity reflecting on the politics of history, power, and leadership from a contemporary Aboriginal perspective.

Namatjira said, “I believe in the power of art, the power of the paintbrush. I know that art can change lives – it changed mine – and I hope that art can change the world too. Painting is in my blood – my great-grandfather Albert Namatjira changed the face of art in Australia. I feel his influence when I paint, especially when I paint our Country. The connection runs deep and it has shaped who I am as an artist. I’m proud to be continuing the Namatjira legacy.

“I respect the old people – their strong culture, their knowledge and their art – but a young fella like me doesn’t want to make traditional paintings. Just like Albert Namatjira, I wanted to find my own way, to find my own voice and to be heard.”

Vincent Namatjira, Western Aranda people, Northern Territory, Rex and Albert, 2017, Indulkana, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 91 × 122cm. Private Collection. © the artist

Other highlights at AGSA include works by Tiger Yaltangki, Bugai Whyoulter, Kunmanara (Ngilan) Dodd, Wally Wilfred, Nyangulya Katie Nalgood, Injalak women weavers, and Ray Mudjandi. Additional exhibitions across Adelaide illuminate the diversity and depth of art and culture in communities nationwide such as Milpatjunanyi: Contemporary drawing from the APY Lands at APY Gallery Adelaide, from 12 October to 10 November, features paintings, works on paper, ceramics, and woven sculptures by senior and emerging artists from the APY Lands, Coober Pedy and Adelaide that activate the deeply held value of drawing and its essential role in forging tangible connections to story, law and Anangu culture.

Also, the Tarnanthi Art Fair returns from 20 to 22 October, now at a new, larger venue, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre – as well as online – providing a unique opportunity to meet First Nations artists, learn about their world and ideas, and buy works of art.


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