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 Bennett’s 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 'an abstraction of the Australian Mr Average, the Australian Everyman’.

In the late 1990s, Bennett began a 'dialogue’ 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. Bennett’s 'Notes to Basquiat’ culminated in a series of works produced in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York in 2001. Bennett’s subsequent 'Camouflage’ 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 over 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 Mo√ęt & 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.

Writers:
Murray-Cree, Laura
Date written:
2006
Last updated:
2011