Museum of Brisbane acknowledges and advises that the following webpage contains images of deceased persons.
Gordon Bennett (1955–2014) remains one of Australia’s most significant postmodern artists. Throughout his practice, he worked in a wide range of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, video, performance and installation. His bold and challenging art continues to engage with questions of cultural and personal identity, particularly within the context of Australia’s colonial past and postcolonial present.
We invite you to come and explore an intimate display of Gordon’s works from the Museum of Brisbane Collections, including two recent acquisitions generously donated by Leanne Bennett.
Born in the Queensland rural town of Monto, Gordon Bennett grew up in a European-Australian environment. As a young teenager, he became aware of his Indigenous Australian heritage, and not until later in his adult life did he learn that his birth mother is a Birri Gubba and Darambal woman who had been raised as an orphan on Cherbourg Aboriginal Mission and later trained as domestic help. Refusing to deny his mixed Anglo-Celtic and Indigenous Australian heritage, Bennett began thinking about concepts of race and identity, which manifested in his celebrated body of work over three decades.
Bennett quit his job at age 30 with Telecom Australia and enrolled in a fine arts degree at Queensland College of Art. There he was introduced to postmodernist thought, which dominated literary and art theory at the time. Drawing on the principles of postmodernism, Bennett took to disrupting the grand narrative of European colonialism and interrogating its influence throughout all facets of Australian society in his art.
In many of his works, Bennett employed a strategy of appropriation. He reproduced and rearranged elements from paintings by prominent artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philip Guston, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Margaret Preston. In doing so, he flipped the colonial lens through which non-Western cultures have been and continue to be represented.
Bennett unexpectedly passed in 2014.