Gordon Bennett is a painter and multi-media artist, Born 1955 Monto, Queensland, Australia.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Arts from the Queensland College of Art.
He describes his background as indigenous Australian as being fundamental to his view of life and his artistic expression.
Racial prejudices he suffered early in his life served as a base for a series of work that he produced. Using derogatory terms of language he encountered such as âBoongâ , âCoonâ and âDarkieâ he created a powerful work which explored the ethnocentric boundaries implicit in language.
He is an artist whose work makes distinct social comments. As he says, â I see much of my work as history painting, not as documentary history painting but rather painting that investigates the way history is constructed after the event...â (Liz Thompson, Aboriginal Voices; Contemporary Aboriginal Artists, Writers and Performers, Simon and Schuster, 1990. AL 10/1/2/1990. Caruana, AA.
His works explore the âlife as usualâ attitude of Australiaâs white culture to Aborigines. He refers to colonial history and the documented violence towards Aborigines by the early colonists as well as the current issues of the deaths in custody of Aborigines in the 1990âs.
His work is powerful and compelling making him undoubtedly one of the most collectable of Aboriginal artists in Australia.
He won the Moet & Chandon Fellowship in 1991 and he was the artist-in-residence at the University of Melbourne, 1993.
His work has appeared in a number of exhibitions including Paraculture, Artist Spaces, New York 1990; Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1990, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; Biennale of Sydney 1993.
He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Artbank, and Gold Coast and Townsville regional galleries. He his held in private and corporate collections in Australia and overseas including a number of tertiary education collections such as Queensland, Griffith and Monash universities as well as the Brisbane City Council. (The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Alan McCulloch, Allen & Unwin 1994)
Gordon Bennett came to art as a mature adult, graduating in Fine Art at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, in 1988. He quickly established himself as an artist equipped both intellectually and aesthetically to address issues relating to the role of language and systems of thought in forging identity.
Much of Bennettâs work is concerned with mapping alternative histories and ideas in post-colonial Australia. He rejects racial labels and stereotypes. In 1995, as an act of personal liberation from preconceptions about his Indigenous heritage, Bennett created an ongoing, pop-art inspired alter ego, John Citizen, whom he says is âan abstraction of the Australian Mr Average, the Australian Everymanâ.
In the late 1990s, Bennett began a âdialogueâ with the work of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, a New York artist seen by Bennett as someone outside Australia who shared both a similar western cultural tradition and an obsession with drawing, semiotics and visual language. Bennettâs âNotes to Basquiatâ culminated in a series of works produced in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York in 2001. Bennettâs subsequent âCamouflageâ series (2003) references the war in Iraq and issues of secrecy. His most recent abstract works extend the notion of camouflage, dissolving the appearance of difference.
Since 1989, Bennett has held 50 solo exhibitions and achieved national and international recognition for his work, with representation in biennales in Sydney, Venice, Kwangju, Shanghai and Cuba, and in major exhibitions of contemporary art in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Prague (Czech Republic), Italy, Denmark, Canada, South Africa and Japan.
The Art of Gordon Bennett by Ian McLean (including an essay by Gordon Bennett), was published by Craftsman House in 1996. Bennett has received several major awards, including the MoĂ«t & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship (1991) and the John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria (1997). His work is held in all major public art collections in Australia.