All Exhibitions

A Happy Place, Paintings by Erik Benson

Oct 16–Jan 14, 2024

The Gallery

“A Happy Place” continues Erik Benson’s interest in painting in an analog, physical sense. He believes that painting is a language that results from thinking, seeing and making. He built these paintings with a process of pouring acrylic paint onto sheets of glass. Once the shapes solidified and acquired elasticity, he peeled off and collaged them into larger compositions. The collaged constructions create a certain mimetic relationship between the visual information depicted and the processes in which they are made. This process-based painting practice allows for him to explore how ideas are observed and understood, and how that transaction is processed into paint and image.

The imagery in Benson’s work toggles between the object-ness of sculpture and the vast canon of painting’s visual vocabulary. The paintings present themselves as landscape and still life hybrid tropes that are informed as much by architecture and fragments of urban landscape and culture as they are by unicorn birthday balloons and kid’s stickers. They attempt to deconstruct the hierarchy of high and low by invoking the familiar and creating new arrangements and contexts. The paintings are thus about the idea impossibly and impermanence. Precarious constructions made out of everyday items such as potted plants, toys, books and building materials, put together with sculptural antiquities that intervene into totemic, homemade, makeshift monuments of invention that speak to the fragile nature of the current moment.

According to Benson: “So much of the last few years has for me been about fragility and precariousness. Lately, I paint my own reality, of being a Dad to two young daughters and husband of an artist in the middle of a Global pandemic, in the city that sparked a movement for racial equality, has many challenges but also moments of profound reflection. Watching the world change before our eyes for better and often worse has granted lessons from failures and roadmaps for future questions to be asked. One question I often ask myself “How to be present?” For me, painting has always been a place where observations and depictions can take on the ideas and thoughts of the day and make some kind of visual sense out of things that often make no sense.”

Erik Benson received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design and. BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He studied at the Skowhegan School Painting and Sculpture. He has had solo and group shows throughout the United States and Europe. He is the recipient of a NYFA painting fellowship as well as a participant in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, and a McKnight Fellow.

Follow along with the artist's process on Instagram and read their bio here.

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