Study for Possession Island, (1991). Collection: Wavell State High School, Brisbane. Photography: John O'Brien. © The Estate of Gordon Bennett.
Left: Notes to Basquiat: Boogie Man, (1998). Right: Notes to Basquiat: To Dance on a Tightrope, (1998). Collection: The Estate of Gordon Bennett. Photography: Carl Warner. © The Estate of Gordon Bennett.
The IMA is pleased to present an exhibition of largely unseen works on paper by one of Australia’s most visionary and critical artists, Gordon Bennett (1955–2014), Be Polite. The IMA’s Executive Directors Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh have worked closely with the Estate of Gordon Bennett to curate a selection of works on paper that comprise drawing, painting, watercolour, poetry, and essays from the early 1990s through to the early 2000s. Though rarely seen in exhibition contexts, Bennett’s drawing and script form the foundation of his practice. Paper is the site where imagery, words, and ideas often found their first expression before being combined into the large-scale conceptual paintings for which Bennett is known. Despite their relatively small scale, works in Be Polite embrace rich layers of Western and Australian Indigenous art history and contemporary politics, a direction Bennett played a leading role in developing throughout the 1980s and continued to explore in his successful career.
Publication and Touring
A publication featuring contributions by Helen Hughes and Ian McLean is being co-published with Sternberg Press in early 2016. After showing at the IMA, the exhibition will evolve and travel to Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2016, and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver in 2017.
Bennett has been the subject of major solo presentations and retrospectives at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, (touring, Europe), 1999–2000, Griffith University, Brisbane, (touring, Australia), 2004–2005, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, (touring, Australia), 2007–2009. International recognition and attention for Bennett’s work has been growing with his inclusion in the acclaimed dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel in 2012, and in the 8th Berlin Biennale in 2014.