George Gittoes AM is a highly recognised Australian artist, photographer and filmmaker. For over four decades he has documented some of the world’s worst 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. As a painter and printmaker, Gittoes is also an award-winning documentary film maker who has worked in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and more recently the suburbs of Chicago. He is the recipient of a number of major art awards and his work is included in public collections nationally and internationally.
The exhibition begins with the ‘Yellow House’, a historically important artists’ community that Gittoes championed in Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 1970’s, 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.
‘I feel privileged to have been able to spend much of my life creating beauty in the face of the destruction of war…I have been waging a personal war against war with art.’ Through his work as an artist and film maker Gittoes invites us to understand what it is like to be there, creating art in some of the most challenging places in the world.
GEORGE GITTOES: on being there, gives unprecedented access to the artist’s personal visual diaries, field drawings, photography and film in a journey that holds out the hopeful power of creativity in the face of prejudice and fear.
Banner image: George GITTOES Our house 1989-90 (detail) oil on canvas 168.0 x 220.0cm Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by George Gittoes 2015 Newcastle Art Gallery Collection Courtesy the artist