Vincent Namatjira debuts his largest painting to date celebrating Aboriginal culture and land

Vincent Namatjira has revealed his largest painting to date, a commission at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. ‘P.P.F. (Past-Present-Future)’ is 15 metres long and was painted by hand over a fortnight. The popular and acclaimed Western Arrernte painter shared;

I’m trying to bring my neck of the woods to the city, to the big smoke, for everyone to see. I painted this for the Indigenous people of Australia… I’m proud to be Aboriginal, and to have these Aboriginal male figures in the world makes me happy for our people.

In his bold and colourful signature style Namatjira shares personal symbolism, firstly the setting is his land, Indulkana in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) region in South Australia. Upon this we see seven figures, a self-portrait of the artist standing on top of his great-grandfather’s Holden ute holding a flag pointed towards Sydney Harbour which speaks to the history of colonisation and first contact between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and British peoples.

In addition you’ll spot icons such as Adam Goodes, Eddie Koiki Mabo, Lionel Rose, Albert Namatjira, Kunmanara (Jimmy) Pompey – all actively engaging in the activities that have enriched their lives and those of others by excelling in sport, music and activism. To represent and honour the male elders in his community, Namatjira has included an Aboriginal stockman.

Namatjira’s commission is the seventh iteration of the Circular Quay Foyer Wall Commission at the MCA. Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions, Clothilde Bullen praised the work, noting that the figures are emblematic of the story of many Aboriginal Australians as ‘one of survival and continued connections to culture. It speaks too about the importance of representation and the ways in which Aboriginal men are valued and seen in the broader community.’

Image: Vincent Namatjira, P.P.F. (Past-Present-Future), 2021, synthetic polymer paint, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2021, supported by Veolia Environmental Services, image courtesy the artist; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; and Iwantja Arts, South Australia © the artist, photograph Daniel Boud.