Gordon Bennett (artist)

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Gordon Bennett
Born 10 August 1955 (1955-08-10)
Monto, Queensland, Australia
Died 3 June 2014(2014-06-03) (aged 58)
Nationality Australia
Education Queensland College of Art
Known for Painting, printmaking
Movement Urban indigenous art
Awards Moët & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship (1991)
John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize (1997)

Gordon Bennett (10 August 1955 – 3 June 2014) was an Australian artist of Aboriginal and Anglo-Celtic descent. Born in Monto, Queensland, Bennett was a significant figure in contemporary Indigenous Australian art.


Born in Monto, Queensland in 1955, of Anglo-Celtic and Aboriginal ancestry,[1] Gordon Bennett grew up in Victoria from the age of four, when his family moved back to Queensland, to the town of Nambour.[2] He attended high school in Brisbane, attending Brisbane State High School.[citation needed] He left school at fifteen and worked in a variety of trades[2] before undertaking formal art studies at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane between 1986 and 1988.[3] Some of his work is about what he saw when he was young. His 1991 painting Nine Ricochets won the prestigious Moët & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship, and he rapidly established himself as a leading figure in the Australian art world. He lived and worked in Brisbane, where he created paintings, prints and worked in multi-media.

Growing up, Bennett was surrounded and confronted by images of Aboriginal Australians inflicting harm on others or being violent in some form of the word.[citation needed]

Bennett expressed his discomfort with being seen as spokesman for Aboriginal peoples, and in a manifesto (or 'manifest toe' as he called it) published in 1996 he spoke of his wish "to avoid banal containment as a professional Aborigine, which both misrepresents me and denies my upbringing and Scottish/English heritage," [4] while simultaneously expressing his wish that his young daughter could grow up in a society where her life would not be defined by her race.[2] The confrontation of Australian racism is a regular theme in works by Bennett.[5]

In 2004, Bennett, together with Peter Robinson, had a two-person exhibition Three Colours, which showed at several Victorian art galleries including Heide Museum of Modern Art, Shepparton Art Gallery, Bendigo Art Gallery and the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.[2] In late 2007 he had a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, that set his works on colonialism in an international context.[6]

Gordon Bennett died on 3 June 2014, of natural causes.[7]


Judith Ryan, senior curator from the National Gallery of Victoria in 2004 described Bennett as "an artist's artist" and "like no other artist currently working".[2] Noting the influence of Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian and Basquiat, she considered Bennett's style to be theoretical and confronting, and intended to encourage critical reflection on national identity.[2]

Bennett is represented in most major public collections in Australia, including the Queensland Art Gallery,[8] as well as in several important overseas collections.

In September 2017, Bennett's 1991 Possession Island was unveiled at London's Tate Modern.[9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Gordon Bennett Introduction". Schools resources. National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Coslovich, Gabriella (28 April 2004). "Bennett puts on brave face". The Age. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Gordon Bennett". Design & Art Australia Online. 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  4. ^ *Roberts, Jo (10 September 2007). "Confronting and uncompromising". The Age. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Grishin 2013, p. 500.
  6. ^ "Exhibitions: Gordon Bennett". National Gallery of Victoria. 2007. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Death Notice for Gordon Bennett". Milani Gallery. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Bennett, Gordon. "Triptych: Requiem, Of Grandeur, Empire 1989". Collection: Contemporary Australian art. Queensland Art Gallery. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Purchased 1989 
  9. ^ Miller, Nick (20 September 2017). "London's Tate Modern takes possession of iconic Australian art". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 


  • Grishin, Sasha (2013). Australian Art: A History. Carlton, VIC: The Miegunyah Press. ISBN 978-0-522-85652-1. 
  • McLean, Ian; Gordon Bennett (1996). The Art of Gordon Bennett. Roseville East, NSW: Craftsman House. ISBN 90-5703-221-X. 

External links[edit]

  • "Gordon Bennett". Trove Guide to Australian Cultural Collections. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  • "Gordon Bennett" (Essay which accompanied exhibit on the bicentenary of the slave trade act consisting of 6 digital prints, 2 acrylics on canvas and one performance DVD). Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  • "Gordon Bennett" (Artist Biography, 18 Artworks and 6 Exhibitions). Sutton Gallery. 1990–2013. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  • "Gordon Bennett". Greenway Gallery. 2002–2008. Archived from the original (Artist Biography, 33 Artworks, 5 Essays, Solo and Selected Group Shows, Collections, Selected Bibliography) on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  • Bennett, Gordon. "Number Nine 2008" (acrylic on linen 182.5 × 304 cm (diptych)). Artabase. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  • Bennett, Gordon (17 November – 10 December 2010). "Abstraction (Citizen) Exhibition". Gallery Barry Keldoulis. Archived from the original (12 acrylic images on linen or paper each 121 x 80 cm (unframed)) on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.