"Art is a means to escape the reductive logic of identity politics by showing its essentialisms to be discursive fictions" states Ian McLean, noting that in the work of John Citizen we see Gordon Bennett playing with the rhetoric of identity, shifting his style, as a strategy to avoid a typecast and to emphasise he is above all an artist, a performer. Art is a type of disguise, mask or mirror rather than a window onto the soul...a disguise by which the artist can be something more than himself, and a mirror that reflects back to the audience their own selves and the world they live in. John Citizen exists in the artistic landscape as an invention of Gordon Bennett's, not an identity or alter ego, but transparently a type of disguise. John Citizen's first body of work in 1995, exhibited at Sutton Gallery, commented on Gordon Bennett's art, through the appropriation of his powerful body of "welt" works (1992/93). There is constant reflection between the two practices, with one not disengaged from the other. Though, as Ian McLean goes on to suggest, in the recent Interiors series, John Citizen has become his own artist as if he no longer needs the inspiration of Gordon Bennett. Gordon Bennett has made paintings of the interior, but their deconstructions of the myths of Australia's colonial history were altogether different. The interior, a metaphor for both John Citizen and Gordon Bennett of Plato's cave and other myths of the psyche, is the proverbial stage of identity. However John Citizen's contemporary Interiors, modernist utopias, placeless rooms with monochrome paintings, have completely foreclosed on Gordon Bennett's maps of contested colonial identities.
Excerpt: Ian McLean: "Who is john citizen?" 2006
John Citizen is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
acrylic on Linen
152 x 152cm