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Indepth Arts News:

"Seeing the Centre: The Art of Albert Namatjira 1902 – 1959"
2003-05-23 until 2003-06-27
National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, VI, AU Australia

An exhibition of breathtaking works by one of Australia’s most renowned artists, Albert Namatjira, is on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 23 May to 27 July 2003. SEEING THE CENTRE: The art of Albert Namatjira 1902-1959 brings together more than 50 watercolours. They trace the artist’s career from the mid 1930s to his death in 1959. Drawn from private and public collections, SEEING THE CENTRE offers audiences the rare opportunity to see many of Namatjira’s finest works together for the first time. NGV Australia Deputy Director, Frances Lindsay, says the exhibition will provide audiences with a captivating experience.

"As traditional custodian for the land he painted - the Western Aranda country in central Australia - Namatjira's personal and spiritual attachment flows through every work. "It is hard for anyone to view these works without sensing the powerful and respectful relationship that Namatjira had for his country." Namatjira’s works challenge the stereotypes of the harsh and red Australian centre. His distinctive deep blue and purple shadows of Mount Hermannsburg, the iron red of Standley Chasm and Glen Helen Gorge, and the white trunks of ghost gums offer audiences new ways of seeing the centre.

Born in 1902, Namatjira was the first Indigenous Australian artist to capture national and international acclaim, paving the way for future indigenous Australian artists to redefine art in Australia. Learning the basics of European watercolour painting from artist Rex Battarbee in the 1930s, Namatjira developed a style very different to the traditional art of his people, the Western Aranda.

Once dismissed as decorative and derivative, his work was virtually ignored by the Australian art world. This exhibition redresses many misconceptions about Namatjira and provides recognition for his outstanding contribution to Australian art.

The exhibition is curated by Roger Butler, Senior Curator of Australian Prints & Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia and Alison French, Darling Author Fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. SEEING THE CENTRE: The art of Albert Namatjira 1902-1959 is proudly sponsored by MARSH.

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