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

Erik Benson

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 mimetic relationship between the visual information depicted and the processes by 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.

As of lately, I paint my own reality, being a dad to two young daughters, in the middle of a Global pandemic, in the city that sparked a movement for racial equality. This 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. As a painter, one question I often ask myself is “How to be present?” 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 in this exhibition toggle between the object-ness of sculpture and the canon of painting’s visual language. 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 form a dialectical narrative of thinking and reflecting about our current culture. The paintings present both still life and landscape. They are about impossibility 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 from everyday items. Potted plants, toys, books and building materials, put together with sculptural antiquities that intervene into totemic, homemade monuments of invention, that speak to the fragile nature of our current American moment. So much of the last year has 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.

Maker Academic Guide