Born 1955, Monto, Queensland. Lived and worked Brisbane. Died 2014, Brisbane.
Born in 1955 in Monto, Queensland, Gordon Bennett lived and worked in Brisbane before his unexpected death in 2014. His bold and humane art challenged racial stereotypes and provoked critical reflection on Australia’s official history and national identity. Bennett was one of Australia’s most significant and critically engaged contemporary artists, addressing issues relating to the role of language and systems of thought in forging identity. He rejected racial stereotypes and freed himself from being categorised as an Indigenous artist by creating an ongoing pop art inspired alter ego, John Citizen, who he considered to be ‘an abstraction of the Australian Mr Average, the Australian Everyman’. In the late 1990s Bennett began a dialogue with the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a New York artist who shared with Bennett a similar western cultural tradition and an obsession with drawing, semiotics and visual language.
Throughout his career, Gordon Bennett achieved national and international recognition, with representation in biennales in Sydney (1992, 2000, 2008), Venice (1995), Kwangju (2000), Shanghai (2000), Prague (2005) and Berlin (2014), as well as the prestigious Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany (2012). His work has been included in major exhibitions in the Netherlands, USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Prague, Italy, Denmark, Canada, South Africa and Japan. His work is collected widely and is represented in major public art collections in Australia. The first monograph on his work, The Art of Gordon Bennett by Ian McLean, was published in 1997. A major survey of his practice toured Australian state galleries in 2007–09.