November 2, 2009

Tom Benson: The temporal and political potential of looking


Tom Benson at Larry Becker, installation view of front room - from right:Scarlet, Counter, Apt, and Script.

"My work lays emphasis on the temporal and political potential of looking and is, in a primary sense, a meditation upon seeing." Tom Benson writes in a recent statment. "I'm interested in the twofold focus of perception that painting offers along with how its material and phenomenal qualities can be used to create a space for contemplative engagement."  In the Philadelphia Inquirer Edith Newhall reports that the colors, shades, and halftone prints of Tom Benson's modestly scaled, mostly monochromatic paintings are so appealing - even magnetic - that it's easy to appreciate them simply for that. "The British artist's scarlet, lemon yellow, black, indigo, pale pink, and white paintings and black-and-white halftone prints in ink and paint seem to hover in the spartan whiteness of Larry Becker Contemporary Art. But Benson's paintings are also intended to prompt a deeper examination of themselves, such as the ways in which his works are affected by changing light conditions; their paint application; the density of pigment (or pigments) in a particular hue; and the nature of the work's support (Benson paints on aluminum panels, aluminum-and-mahogany panels, and acetate). Look carefully, and the paintings change according to your changing perception of them.

"The gallery has three small books on hand that were published to accompany past Benson exhibitions; they explain his choices and uses of various pigments, and it's well worth asking to look at them for their detailed explanation of his practice. Then again, the works speak quite eloquently for themselves."

"Tom Benson: Paintings," Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA. Through Nov. 28.

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