George Gittoes at Newcastle Art Gallery

8 February – 26 April

George Gittoes AM is a highly recognised Australian artist, photographer and filmmaker. For more than four decades he has documented some of the world’s most serious conflicts. From the killing fields of Cambodia to Rwanda, Gittoes has responded to the best and worst of the human condition.

He has been recognised for his humanitarian and peacemaking efforts and has been awarded an Order of Australia (AM) as well as the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize in 2015. A painter and printmaker, Gittoes is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has worked in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and more recently the suburbs of Chicago. He is the recipient of several major art awards and his work is included in public collections nationally and internationally.

“George Gittoes rages against the destruction of war by creating beauty and art within the heart of the struggle,” Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said.

On being there is a unique opportunity to view and understand the artistic career and motivation of Gittoes to produce art that not only matters, but also provides the antithesis to the effects of extreme conflict – hope. For this reason, the power of this exhibition lies within the process just as much as the final product.

“It is a privilege to have a world-renowned artist such as Gittoes visiting our city and Gallery.”

The exhibition begins with the ‘Yellow House’, a historically important artists’ community that Gittoes championed in Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 1970s, to the major ‘Heavy Industry’ series and the dramatic working conditions of the Newcastle BHP steel works. The 1990s saw travels to Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Middle East as an unofficial war artist, to Iraq and Pakistan, and onto the founding of a second ‘Yellow House’ in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan working with local artists and actors. His most recent exploration of these themes and journeys are in the suburbs of South Chicago in 2018, one of the worst areas for gun violence in the United States.

GEORGE GITTOES: on being there has been guest curated by local art historian and educational facilitator Dr Rod Pattenden – Pattenden’s close working relationship with Gittoes giving unprecedented access to the artist’s personal visual diaries, field drawings, photography and film. The exhibition is a journey that upholds the hopeful power of creativity in the face of prejudice and fear.