January 17, 2023 - March 17, 2023
Saint John’s Art Center, SJU


Erik Benson

January 17 – March 17, 2023

Reception: January 20, 5-7pm

Medium: Acrylic Painting

Artist Statement:

I am interested in making paintings in an analog, physical sense. I believe that painting is a visual
language made up of thinking, seeing and making. I build my paintings employing a process of
pouring acrylic paint onto sheets of glass. Once the shapes have solidified and acquired elasticity,
they are peeled off and collaged into larger compositions. These collaged constructions create a certain
mimetic relationship between the visual information depicted and the processes in which they
are made. This process based painting allows for me to explore how something is observed and understood,
and how that transaction is processed into paint and image.

As of lately, I paint my own reality, which these days being a Dad to two young daughters 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 as a painter is “How to be present?” For me, painting has
always been about observations and depictions. I feel it in this cultural moment my responsibility as
an artist is to listen and be present.

The paintings toggle between the object-ness of sculpture and the vast canon of painting’s visual
language. Both visually and physically. They are informed as much by architecture and fragments
of urban landscape and culture as they are by unicorn birthday balloons and rainbow stickers. They
attempt to deconstruct the hierarchy of high and low by placing everything within the same proximity
with equal value. The imagery and ideas often intermingle into a narrative of dialectical thinking
that reflect my feelings about our current cultural, environmental, and political moments. The paintings
present themselves somewhere between still life and landscape paintings. They are about impossibly
and impermanence. In a time when our concept of life is unstable, unpredictable, and frequently overwhelming.
The idea of mending an ancient vase with Duct tape and stickers. 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 out current American moment.

So much of the last year has for me been about fragility. It feels like the curtain has been pulled
back to reveal those in charge have been making it up as they go. I feel especially now, it is a moment
of being there. Being in the room. Listening. Responding. Being present.