Gordon Bennett Essay -'the Coming of the Light' and 'Big Romantic Paiting'

Gordon Bennett Essay

Gordon Bennett is one of Australia’s leading artists. His high level of skill as an artist combined with his strong and engaging concepts allow him to be highly celebrated within Australia and internationally. His work mainly focuses on questioning his own identity as an Aboriginal and as an Australian, as well as interrogating Australia’s past including the role of western or ‘White’ culture and its dominant effect on Australia's social and cultural identity. Bennett is in a continuous struggle with identity, and is constantly using this theme throughout his works. He even adopted an alter ego in 1999 by the name ‘John Citizen’ in order to escape the presumptions that the public had about him and his work because of his Aboriginal heritage. The National Gallery of Victoria held an exhibition of his works in 2007, which sparked my interest in his work and in his ideas, forcing him to become one of my favourite Australian artists.

Bennett’s body of work incorporates a wide variety of mediums and techniques, including painting, printmaking, video, photography, installation and performance. His works are always layered with multiple meanings and messages, portrayed through effective symbolism. He uses both appropriated images and styles from other artists that have influenced his practise and ideas. A few artists he references include Margaret Preston, Immants Tillers, Vincent Van Gogh, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hans Heysen and Jackson Pollock. He also often uses traditional Aboriginal artistic techniques such as dots, as well as the traditional yellows and reds that we associate with Aboriginal art today. In order to truly understand his work I have analysed two of my favourite pieces in detail, these works are ‘The Coming of the Light’ and ‘Big Romantic Painting (The Apotheosis of Captain Cook)’

‘The Coming of the Light’ is a large scale (152x374cm) acrylic on canvas painting, created in 1987. When interpreting its meanings and...