Gordon Bennett is internationally acclaimed as one of Australia’s most significant and critically engaged contemporary artists. Bennett has been recognised for his powerful perspectives on the post colonial experience, particularly in the Australian context. Much of his works map alternative histories, rejecting and questioning racial categorisations and stereotypes.
For this new body of work, Bennett’s ongoing pop-art inspired alter ego, John Citizen, presents a series of domestic interior scenes which provide a familiar setting for Bennett’s accompanying works of floating painted faces on solid black backgrounds.
Bennett’s provocative faces previously appeared in his 1997 series, Home décor (Preston + de Stijl = Citizen). Appropriations of Margaret Preston’s stylised “Aboriginal” figures of the 1920’s, these consciously emotive faces reappear, this time crowding Bennett’s canvases and asserting their presence. Citizen’s ikea-esk domestic spaces oozing with comfort and ease are interrupted by the presence of these same caricatures, superficially whimsical though laden with stereotype; it is the history of these motifs, their origins, and their purpose, which taunts us.
This current series of paintings sees Gordon Bennett and John Citizen intertwine and successfully fuse the political and confrontational with the familiar and humorous. Cleverly imbued in contents from his earlier works and hence earlier appropriations and representations, Bennett’s audience is invited to both negotiate his repelling juxtapositions, and to relish in the interconnectedness for which Bennett’s oeuvre is celebrated.
During his career 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. Bennett has also held numerous individual exhibitions, and has work in the collections of major State institutions, and national corporations. He has been the recipient of major awards including the Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship and the John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria. Currently touring exhibition Gordon Bennett: a survey, concludes this month at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.Gordon Bennett’s profile John Citizen’s profile