Monika Grzymala

Polish artist Monika Grzymala describes her work as three dimensional drawings. She studied sculpture, shifted to drawing and found her place somewhere in between. Rolls of tape are her “pen” of choice and she allows them to dive and ripple in all directions.

Her earlier work began as quite polite insertions within the space, but over time her installations have become increasingly forceful and dynamic. Her most recent works infect the space with an unrelenting electric energy, well and truly transforming that humble roll of tape into its own life force. With names such as “Duplex,” “Two Corners” and “Pas De Deux,” there is a recurring reference to duality and the magnetism of opposing forces.


Gordon Bennett

gordon bennett portrait

Gordon Bennett was born in Monto, Queensland in 1955. After working in various trades in his early life, Bennett enrolled as a mature–age student at Queensland College of Art in 1986 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) degree in 1988. Since his first major solo exhibition in 1989 his work has been at the forefront of contemporary Australian art and has been recognised internationally for its innovative and critical engagement with ideas and issues of ongoing relevance to contemporary culture.

While Bennett’s art is grounded in his personal struggle for identity as an Australian of Aboriginal and Anglo–Celtic descent, it presents and examines a broad range of philosophical questions related to the construction of identity, perception and knowledge. This includes a focus on the role and power of language, including visual representations, in shaping identity, culture and history.


Much of Bennett’s work has been concerned with an interrogation of Australia’s colonial past and postcolonial present, including issues associated with the dominant role that white, western culture has played in constructing the social and cultural landscape of the nation. However, Bennett’s ongoing investigation into questions of identity, perception and knowledge, has involved a range of subjects drawn from both history and contemporary culture, and both national and international contexts. The Notes to Basquiat: 911 series and the Camouflage series, which reflect on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the war in Iraq respectively, highlight Bennett’s global perspective.

Bennett’s art practice is interdisciplinary and encompasses painting, photography, printmaking, video, performance and installation. The critical and aesthetic strategies of postmodernism have had significant impact on the development of his art practice. His work is layered and complex and often incorporates images, styles or references drawn from sources such as social history text books, western art history and Indigenous art. Well-known Australian and international artists whose works are referenced in different ways in Bennett’s work include Hans Heysen, Margaret Preston, Imants Tillers, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Colin McCahon and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Bennett’s referencing, appropriation and recontextualisation of familiar images and art styles challenges conventional ways of viewing and thinking and opens up new possibilities for understanding the subjects Bennett explores.

In 1999 Bennett adopted an alter ego and began making and exhibiting Pop Art inspired images under the name of John Citizen, a persona representative of the Australian ‘Mr Average’. Bennett adopted this alter ego to liberate himself from the preconceptions that were often associated with his Aboriginal heritage and his identity and reputation as the artist Gordon Bennett. Since 2003 Bennett has been working on a series of non-representational abstract paintings that mark another significant shift in his practice. These paintings reflect Bennett’s belief that after the Notes to Basquiat series of 2003, I had gone as far I could with the postcolonial project I was working through1. The emphasis on making ‘art about art’ which is the focus of his non-representational abstract paintings, contrasts clearly with the focus on social critique that was integral to Bennett’s earlier work, and is intended also to make people aware that I am an artist first and not a professional ‘Aborigine’.2 In this respect, Bennett’s non representational abstract works, despite their overt emphasis on visual concerns, may be seen as reflecting an ongoing engagement with questions of identity, knowledge and perception.

Unafraid of big issues for art, like individual and national identity, life and death, and the role of imagery in representation itself, questioning is at the heart of Bennett’s project.

Despite his claim to be a history painter, Bennett wants to undo the hold of the usual stories told by modern historians. He is interested in what Australians historians do not say, in what they leave out….Bennett is not the chronicler of Australian history, but its exorcist.

I do believe art can function to expand one’s consciousness, to act as a catalyst perhaps, to exceed the boundaries of language and how it defines and limits understanding of the world in which we live.

Bennett’s pictures leave us with questions rather than answers, with complexities rather than simplicities – as if the origins of truth, identity and ideology are in metaphors and signs rather than in things, and hence are layered and relative.

Art as a means of interrogating the constructed nature of knowledge, perception and understanding, including race as a social and cultural construct
Critical enquiry into how language, including visual representations structures ideologies social and cultural systems
Philosophical enquiry into role of art and the artist in society. The role of art and artists in challenging social complacency.

gordon bennett 4
1 Bill Wright’s interview with Gordon Bennett in Gellatly K with contributions by Clemens, Justin; Devery, Jane; and Wright, Bill Gordon Bennett National Gallery of Victoria exhibition catalogue, Melbourne, 2007
2 ibid
3 Wright, Simon ‘Into the printout’ Out of Print, exhibition catalogue, Griffith Artworks, Brisbane, 2005 p. 79
4 Ian McLean ‘Gordon Bennett’s Existentialism’ in McLean I. and Bennett G. The Art of Gordon Bennett Craftsmen House / G + B International, Australia 1996 p. 70
5 Gordon Bennett ‘The Manifest Toe’ in McLean I. and Bennett G. 1996 op cit p. 53
6 Ian McLean ‘Gordon Bennett’s Existentialism’ in McLean I. and Bennett G. 1996 op cit p. 69


Crucifixion 1959 F.N. Souza 1924-2002 Purchased 1993

Crucifixion 1959 F.N. Souza 1924-2002 Purchased 1993

Francis Newton Souza, born in the Portuguese colony of Goa to Indian parents, was brought up as a strict Catholic. In 1949, having become a well-established artist in India, he moved to Britain. After six difficult years living in London, he began to build a considerable reputation as a writer and painter.

This painting, which is one of several religious pictures by Souza, refutes the ‘blond operatic Christs and flaxen-haired shy Virgins'(Souza, p.8) he had been encouraged to admire at the Jesuit school he went to in Bombay. Instead it emulates ‘the impaled image of a Man supposed to be the Son of God, scourged and dripping, with matted hair tangled in plaited thorns’ (Souza, p.9) he saw hanging over the altars of the Catholic churches he attended.
While the depiction of Christ and the other figures as black represents a significant departure from the western canon, such critics as Edwin Mullins and David Sylvester compared the expressionist vernacular of Souza’s work with that of Graham Sutherland (1903-80) and Francis Bacon (1909-92), both of whom had depicted religious subject matter in a similarly brutal style shortly after the Second World War. Indeed, Sutherland painted several crucifixions in the postwar period which referred directly to the Isenheim Altarpiece, 1515 (Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, France) by the German Renaissance painter Matthias Grunewald (c1475-1528), among them Crucifixion, 1946 (Tate N05774). Comparisons were also made to Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) work of the late 1930s and the 1940s, though the distorted faces in Crucifixion may equally be compared to those of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 (Museum of Modern Art, New York).
Mullins described Souza’s vision of divine power as of ‘a God, who is not a God of gentleness and love, but rather of suffering, vengeance and terrible anger’ (Mullins, p.40). The tortured figure of Christ and the grotesquely deformed characters on either side of him, who according to Souza may be St John and a disciple, testify to this reading of his religious imagery.

“Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.” Mark Rothko

“We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.”
Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb


A prominent figure among the New York School painters, Mark Rothko moved through many artistic styles until reaching his signature 1950s motif of soft, rectangular forms floating on a stained field of color. Heavily influenced by mythology and philosophy, he was insistent that his art was filled with content, and brimming with ideas. A fierce champion of social revolutionary thought, and the right to self-expression, Rothko also expounded his views in numerous essays and critical reviews.

Highly informed by Nietzsche, Greek mythology, and his Russian-Jewish heritage, Rothko’s art was profoundly imbued with emotional content that he articulated through a range of styles that evolved from figurative to abstract.
Rothko’s early figurative work – including landscapes, still lifes, figure studies, and portraits – demonstrated an ability to blend Expressionism and Surrealism. His search for new forms of expression led to his Color Field paintings, which employed shimmering color to convey a sense of spirituality.
Rothko maintained the social revolutionary ideas of his youth throughout his life. In particular he supported artist’s total freedom of expression, which he felt was compromised by the market. This belief often put him at odds with the art world establishment, leading him to publicly respond to critics, and occasionally refuse commissions, sales and exhibitions.

Franz Kline

American Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline is best known for large black and white paintings bearing abstract motifs set down with strident confidence. He started out as a realist with a fluent style that he perfected during an academic training that encouraged him to admire Old Masters such as Rembrandt. But after settling in New York and meeting Willem de Kooning, he began to evolve his signature abstract approach. By the end of his life he had achieved immense international recognition, and his unusual approach to gestural abstraction was beginning to influence the ideas of many Minimalists.


Franz Kline is most famous for his black and white abstractions, which have been likened variously to New York’s cityscape, the landscape of his childhood home in rural Pennsylvania, and Japanese calligraphy.
The poet and curator Frank O’Hara saw Kline as the quintessential ‘action painter’, and Kline’s black and white paintings certainly helped establish gestural abstraction as an important tendency within Abstract Expressionism. Yet Kline saw his method less as a means to express himself than as a way to create a physical engagement with the viewer.

franz kline
The powerful forms of his motifs, and their impression of velocity, were intended to translate into an experience of structure and presence which the viewer could almost palpably feel.
Kline’s reluctance to attribute hidden meanings to his pictures was important in recommending his work to a later generation of Minimalist sculptors such as Donald Judd and Richard Serra.

franz kline 2