Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art + Tarnanthi Art Fair

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) will this year present over 1500 artists for ‘Tarnanthi’, the gallery’s annual state-wide festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture. The multiple-month showcase includes a range of vibrant group and solo exhibitions and ‘Tarnanthi Art Fair’ an altogether dynamic platform for important stories to be told through the exceptional creativity of First Nations artists.

Margaret Rarru on Country Margaret Rarru on Country weaving in front of Milingimbi Art Centre. Photograph: Charlie Bliss. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of South Australia

From 20 October 2023 to 21 January 2024, the celebrations at AGSA and across a number of South Australian venues will see artists working at all levels of creative practice sharing their stories, love for Country, cultural traditions and knowledge across painting, photography, weaving, carving, sculpture, moving image, works on paper, textiles, performance and more.

“Tarnanthi champions artists as they activate and innovate contemporary cultural expression in a multiplicity of mediums and methods. It is a homage to our First Nations history and recognition of the first people of Australia,” says AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport.

The first survey exhibition of artist Vincent Namatjira will premiere at AGSA coinciding with the launch of a new publication about the Western Aranda portrait artist who uses wit and humour together with painting to amplify his views and perspectives on the politics of history, power and leadership.

Vincent Namatjira Western Aranda people, Northern Territory born Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Northern Territory 14 June 1983 The Indulkana Tigers, 2014, Indulkana, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia synthetic polymer paint on linen 122 x 152 cm Private Collection © Vincent Namatjira

‘Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour’ will feature both new and existing works alongside selected artworks by Albert Namatjira (1902-1959) – Vincent’s great grandfather – an extraordinary artist who paved the way for contemporary Aboriginal art to flourish in Australia – and who is widely known for his distinct watercolour paintings that beautifully portray the layered landscapes of the Australian outback.

Following in his great grandfather’s footsteps, Vincent says, “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.”

AGSA also presents the skills and traditional weaving techniques of Kunwinjku women of Gunbalanya, west Arnhem Land in ‘Kala kunbolk (Colour Country)’ – an exhibition of intricately woven and colourful baskets created using naturally dyed pandanus leaves.

Western Aranda artist Judith Pungarta Inkamala of the Hermannsburg Potters studio reveals newly made hand-built clay forms coloured with tales of her remarkable life story, and the Mpulungkinya project brings together artist Marlene Rubunja with a group of artists from Yarrenyty Arltere and Tangentyere art centres with their kinetic soft sculptures, ceramics and paintings.

We see links to pop culture, contemporary film, comics and superheroes in the work of young artist Ray Mudjandi, and Yankunytjatjara artist Tiger Yaltangki brings his rock idols to the gallery with the artist’s selection of reimagined AC/DC posters signatured with his bright, bold brushstrokes and texts.

Tiger Yaltangki with his works of art, 2022. Photograph: Rhett Hammerton. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of South Australia

‘Tarnanthi Art Fair’ will light up the Adelaide Entertainment Centre from 20 to 22 October with an exceptional array of artworks, homewares, jewellery, woven objects, clothing and other textiles created out of more than 50 art centres from around the country.

‘Tarnanthi Art Fair’ is a chance to explore and purchase from thousands of traditional and contemporary artworks and objects on display both in-situ and online – all proceeds will go directly to the artists and their community-run art centres.

A major highlight of the Fair’s in-person experience will see audiences transported into the heart of Indigenous communities across remote regions of Australia. The large-scale immersive digital mapping project titled ‘UPLANDS Art, Culture, Country’ will feature interviews with more than 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers sharing insights about their art centres, community collections and their creative and cultural practices.

Explore more of what’s to come during the 2023 ‘Tarnanthi’ celebrations here.

Art Gallery of South Australia