Victor Gordon is a socially-engaged South African-born Australian artist. His art practice incorporates strongly-held social views and personal concerns peppered with humour. It wasn’t me, I won’t do it again is his memoir. The text is illustrated by approximately 260 images of his art works addressing an extensive range of social issues.
Part one traces his background and formative years as a middle-class white male of mixed-religious background. Gordon describes his aversion to religion, his emerging artistic aspirations, his military conscription, and political awakening, in a society torn apart by hatred born of fear and institutionalised racial violence.
He became immersed in the anti-Apartheid struggle during his last five years in South Africa (1982-87).
Part two follows his relocation to Australia where he reassesses his new circumstances. He reflects on his experiences of academia and art-teaching in the visual arts. After twelve years in Sydney, he spends a self-imposed five-year exile in outback NSW. He analyses the rampant corruption, cronyism, and nepotism in the Australian art world.
Gordon also critiques the paradox of Australian democracy’s violent underbelly, based on its patriarchal colonial culture of nostalgia, entrenched militarism, racism, sexism, and ineffective over-governance.
The final part addresses his personal methodology and artist-philosophy, based on authentic originality embodied in his epithet that “ideas are the currency of artists.”
In the visual arts realm, there are no societal prohibitions on defining oneself an artist and herein lies the crucial key to the proliferation of banal utterances which have inundated our art universe, and made the task of identifying worthwhile and meaningful art so hard to pinpoint and identify.
Gordon acknowledges the complex challenges facing artists in an age of culture-as-entertainment, populism and instant gratification. He critically explores the predominance of film and narrative, digital imaging-technology, the media, and propaganda advertising. He presents a case that fake news and social media platforms devalue resonant authenticity.
But in spite of this, he determines to contribute his aesthetic alternatives to the status quo.
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