Thursday, March 7th, 2024
Liam Benson
acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Congratulations to Liam Benson, whose works have recently been acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

The three works entering the AGNSW Collection are Bleeding Glitter and VB Sticker, two photo-media works from 2005, and a more recent fibre-art painting, Solus Embraced from 2022.

Performance is at the heart of Liam Benson’s visual arts practice, with his body a site for conjuring identities born of experience, and self-examination and for making and unmaking meaning. His performance is a way of outreach, of sharing his empathy as artist, thinker and provocateur. Of finding a way through the conflicted societal and personal dilemma of what it means to be a white, ‘Anglo’, gay male in Australia in the twenty-first century.

It is an unease manifesting early in his art practice with potent yet poignant videoed performances and stills exploring ideas of masculinity, queer identity, youth and drug and alcohol issues. VB Sticker and Bleeding Glitter both capture Benson in vulnerable bare-shouldered portraits, but always, with the artist’s intensely expressive, challenging blue-eyed gaze and realised with only minimal costumery and props. A singular beer label as mouth-mask in VB Sticker; the telling choice of a trail of blood-red sequins for the stark, disquieting tracks that seep from nose and mouth in Bleeding Glitter. Both self-portraits are simple but potent images that are all-the-more complex and affecting for their intentionally understated minimalism.

Solus Embraced an organic work that is in essence ‘painting’ with sequins exploits the ‘optimistic’ shimmer, opalescence and translucent colours and riches of the iridescent Australian landscape – gold, copper, rose, brown, aqua, black, silver. The meditative process of embroidery, stitching being a time for contemplation, is a way for Liam Benson of expressing and assimilating ideas of place and displacement – physically, psychologically and culturally. And for searching for acknowledgement, respect and understanding of self; of community; and of Country… Benson’s is a practice characterised by anxiety, by unease, yet deep empathy and a plea for understanding, for inclusion and optimism.

In the decades since graduating from the University of Western Sydney, Liam Benson’s career has grown within the incubator environment of Parramatta Art Studios and expanded into collaborative projects among the many diverse Parramatta communities and artists from disparate backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural experiences. Benson exhibits with Artereal Gallery, notable for identifying and enabling early career artists where he continues to be represented into mid-career. Virtue Without Stain, a survey exhibition of two decades of his art was developed in 2022 with curator Richard Perram, hosted by Bathurst Regional Gallery and toured to selected regional galleries in New South Wales.

Liam Benson, Bleeding Glitter, 2005, inkjet print on paper, 65 x 90 xm, E.d AP1/5+2AP


Liam Benson, VB sticker, 2005, inkjet print on paper, 65 x 90 xm, E.d 2/5+2AP

Liam Benson, Solus Embraced, 2021-2022, metallic thread, seed beads, cotton, organza, tulle, 210 x 140 cm