- Rex Butler
(b 1955, Monto, Queensland; d June 3, 2014).
Australian Aboriginal painter. Bennett came to art late, after working throughout most of his 20s as a linesman for Telecom, he began studying at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, in 1986. He came to critical attention while still at art school, and just three years after graduating won the prestigious Moët et Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1991 with The Nine Ricochets (Fall Down Black Fella Jump Up White Fella) (1990). This important and extensively discussed work was a riposte to Imants Tillers’s The Nine Shots (1985), which appropriated from the work of the Western Desert artist Michael Nelson Tjakamarra. Bennett responded to Tillers by appropriating not only elements of Tillers’s own culture but also his method of appropriation itself. Throughout the 1990s, Bennett pursued an ambitious project of what could be called ‘contemporary history painting’, taking as his subject a series of colonial images and colonizing techniques, such as exploring, mapping and classifying. His aim was to open up a re-reading of Australian history, both to include an Aboriginal perspective and to show how Aborigines are taught to regard themselves in Western terms. Bennett has thought through this difficulty of representing Aborigines from his first works at art college, such as ...