Exhibiting this body of work for the first time on the twentieth anniversary of their production in February 2004, Gordon Bennett: Thin Lines features a suite of abstract acrylic paintings on paper, on view ten years after the seminal artist’s untimely passing in 2014.
Throughout this series, Gordon Bennett’s aesthetic drive is one of freedom through abstraction. Thin Lines offloaded the burden of representation ascertained from the more explicitly political paintings of his ‘post-colonial project’ which encompassed the previous seventeen years of his career. For these artworks, Bennett employed geometric abstraction to harness aesthetic qualities of indifference, contradicting the narrow lens of identity through which his works had grown to be seen. This rebuttal through abstraction sought to alleviate the conflation of the artist’s personage with the content of his earlier work, delineating a conceptual distance between the two.
Bennett’s emphasis on materialism in production, along with the precise use of colour and sharp lines to trace the surface of the paper, correlates to a generation of American abstract painters in the 1960s championed by Clement Greenberg. While tethering Thin Lines through latent aesthetic connections to the hard edge, self-referential painting of Frank Stella, Ad Reinhardt and Robert Rauschenberg offers few fresh perspectives, Bennett’s engagement in this painting tradition is noteworthy. His adaptation of the materialist, mechanical approach to painting invoked by these artists – whereby perfunctory gestures and mark making is prescribed and dictated by the dimensional limitations of the surface – enabled Bennett to renounce the expectation to perform identity through the embedding of an authorial presence in his practice.
There is a linear consistency with which Bennett marks the paper, pointing to an artist revelling in a methodical studio process. Bennett described these lines as “speaking for themselves”, each running their respective longitudinal and latitudinal courses. As Tim Riley Walsh has understood, the crux of Bennett’s abstract line paintings is their “procedural” means of production. The surfaces of the works trace the artist’s studio experience, in which both experiential and temporal considerations are explored. Bennett draws attention to how the thickness of paint changes as the loaded paint brush drags across the paper, or how the lineal irregularity corresponds to the way one’s arm might buckle from the fatigue of repetition and the tension of holding each line.
Gordon Bennett: Thin Lines lays bare a tangible process of procedural art-making to subvert the romance and myths associated with his extensive practice. While the series concentrates on lineal form and the adherent relationship of the matte and metallic paint to paper, it leaves the viewer searching the interstices for insights into the artist-at-work.
Additionally, the presentation at Melbourne Art Fair 2024 will include three significant paintings from Bennett’s acclaimed Interior, Home décor and numbered Stripe series. Signalling the circularity of imagery across Bennett’s paintings, these works elucidate the artist’s dedication to abstraction and his proximate, critical relationship to art history throughout his career.
Gordon Bennett: Thin Lines
Melbourne Art Fair 2024
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Thursday 22 February: 12pm – 9pm (VIP Preview & Vernissage)
Friday 23 Februrary: 12pm – 7pm
Saturday 24 February: 10am – 6pm
Sunday 25 February: 10am – 5pm