Albert Namatjira’s lasting legacy


The life and work of Albert Namatjira have left a lasting legacy for artists throughout the country. As a boy in the 1950s, Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, a Mara painter from the Gulf of Carpentaria, met Albert Namatjira. For many artists, Namatjira’s use of non-traditional colours and techniques was a liberating influence and, when Riley took up painting later in life, his richly toned landscapes, which place his ancestors within their country, were lauded around the world.

RELATED: Albert and Vincent Namatjira

RELATED: Albert Namatjira

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Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, Garimala (The Two Snakes) 1988
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, Australia 1937-2002 / Garimala (The Two Snakes) 1988 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / Purchased 1990 with funds from ARCO Coal Australia Inc. through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The Estate of Ginger Riley Munduwalawala. Courtesy of Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

Lin Onus, a Yorta Yorta artist from Victoria, achieved acclaim for paintings of his country around the Barmah Forest on the Murray River, which combined elements of landscape painting, realism and various Aboriginal painting styles. His references to the landscape painting style were influenced by Aboriginal artists such as Nyoongar artist Revel Cooper and Koori artist Ronald Bull.

Lin Onus, Morumbeeja Pitoa (Floods and moonlight) 1993
Lin Onus, Australia 1948-1996 / Morumbeeja Pitoa (Floods and moonlight) 1993 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1995. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Lin Onus Estate 1993/Licensed by Viscopy 2017

Aboriginal artists from across the country were active in the post-Namatjira period, many of them adopting his style as an Aboriginal painting style before the rise in popularity of the dot painting style in the late 1970s.

Billy Benn Perrurle, an Anmatyerr man from Central Australia, also recalled meeting Albert Namatjira as a boy. Benn was taught by his elder sisters Ally and Gladdy Kemarre to paint on his body in the ‘Utopia’ style, but it was in an expressionistic landscape style that he made his mark. His influences ranged from the Hermannsburg School, whose artists were renowned in the Alice Springs town camps where Benn began making his works, to the Chinese calligraphic traditions taught to him by the Chinese wife of a mica miner.

Bruce McLean is Former Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, QAGOMA

Kwementyaye Benn,, Artyetyerre - Harts Range 2008
Kwementyaye Benn, Australia 1943-2012 / Artyetyerre – Harts Range 2008 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / Purchased 2008. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Billy Benn Perrurle 2008/Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

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Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution Indigenous people make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.