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Erik Benson
at Eight Modern, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Kathryn M Davis

Continuing through June 4, 2011

When Erik Benson says that he was inspired in his art-making by his childhood love of Legos™, it's easy to understand the concept abstractly as a metaphor for his process. On viewing his work, in particular the large, brooding "Mixtape," realization sinks in: Benson literally uses tiny modules of acrylic colors to construct his paintings. The building in this 60 x 72 inch work is made entirely, brick by brick, of blocks of paint cut and scraped from poured acrylic and applied to a panel that is affixed to the canvas. The intricacy of his work is astonishing; what keeps it from being mere craft is his fixation with the implications and impositions of flatness.

Making two-dimensional paintings appear to represent three dimensions has a long history in practice and theory. Benson was steeped in both as a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design. Now Brooklyn, the place where he lives and works, serves as his landscape, reduced to the dystopia of Every City, USA. Universal as Ed Ruscha's "Standard Stations," Benson's cityscapes feature repeated forms that intimate the monotony of parking lots, tenements, and the grid of streets, often overlaid with a dark scrim of sad trees, each leaf delicately outlined. But these are not unhappy paintings; they point to layers of meaning lurking under the conventions of urbanity.

Eight Modern

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