Vincent Namatjira, the great-grandson of the great Albert Namatjira, has won the Archibald Prize for portraiture, in this case of himself and former football champion of the Sydney Swans, Adam Goodes. Commenting on this award being the first to an indigenous artist, Mr. Namatjira commented: “It only took 99 years!”
Now, while Goodes was a very, very good player, his reviews as a person are mixed: some claim he is a martyr to structural racism in this country and a brave flag-bearer for the aboriginal peoples. Others see him as a serial sook. It is neither our desire nor our place to weigh into that quarrel: however, we are on record concerning the Archibald Prize as a cocktail-party joke.
In light of that, we have to offer an artistic comment on the prize-winning work. It is a poor piece, and frankly, it looks like it only took 99 minutes.
We know Albert Namatjira was a landscape painter, but let’s look upon his portrait by William Dargie, and admire his 1959 painting of the McDonnell Ranges: