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Anthony Bennett

super thanks for asking

Official Opening 8th June 2007   6:00pm -  8:00pm

 

“I can’t tell you what Pop Art is, it’s too involved. It’s just taking the outside and putting it on the inside, or taking the inside and putting it out ...”  Andy Warhol, 1967

Bennett understands that we live in terms of images - famous images. Like Warhol forty years earlier, Anthony Bennett began his painting career by detaching super-familiar imagery from its commodity-based universe and then transposing it onto the walls of galleries. In his most recent paintings however, a strange symbiosis is at work. Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Bennett appropriates celebrity portraits as points of departure into forays of rampant expressionism. Restructured and reinterpreted, his images include such disparate characters as Andy Warhol, Brett Whiteley, Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Vincent van Gogh, Reg Mombassa, Queen Elizabeth II and Peter Garrett - to name but a few!

Emphasising the iconic nature of each, Bennett regularly adopts a close-up, frontal viewpoint centered against a single-coloured backdrop. Vivid, often garish hues, along with exceedingly flamboyant brushwork, act to subvert all previous notions about the subject. Reminiscent of the great Willem de Kooning, Frances Bacon and Chaim Soutine, Bennett’s style has “... a distorted, looping vigour - a wristy delineation of shape with the brush dragging form into existence.”  i. 

Despite this painterly attack, the human visage survives and individuals are instantly recognizable. Yet an unsettling sense of dislocation may persist - generated it seems from the fluctuating depths and unique figure-ground dynamics. Sardonic commentary scrawled in tiny text prompts closer scrutiny. A notion builds that the works themselves might be some sort of anarchic, aesthetic declaration - it’s hard to know for sure because Bennett is not keen on explanations: “... well, if you have to write an essay and stick it next to the painting to get your point across, why not just burn the painting and write a damn book?” 

Anthony Bennett’s directness reveals something of the artist himself. Such uninhibited spontaneity requires considerable self-assurance, acute observational skills and a shrewd grasp of character. Transcending all questions of originality, Bennett has created a cryptic visual vocabulary where the personal and the public collide in enormously powerful statements. His is a kind of ‘Performance Art’, and given the immaculate, mirror-like finishes, one in which the viewer cannot avoid participation! 

Anthony Bennett gained a Bachelor of Visual Arts (double major painting/sculpture) from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University Brisbane, 1998. Widely travelled, with time spent living and working in London, Rome and Tokyo. His present studio is in an 80 year old dairy shed on a property near Samford. The veteran of ten solo exhibitions. super thanks for asking is Bennett’s 11th and will open on June 8th 2007, at Schubert Contemporary, Marina Mirage, Main Beach.                                                    

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON

 

i. Robert Hughes: The Shock of the New,  Thames & Hudson, 1980

 

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