Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Chaotic Journey in Paint

“I try to set up those conditions where there’s,
like, a certain amount of total disregard for the logic of the painting.

Steve DiBenedetto

The New York artist Steve DiBenedetto is constantly looking to move his work forward from being a symbolist painter he has recently started to embrace abstraction. From the ongoing motifs in his paintings that include octopi, helicopters, Ferris wheels and, more recently, architecture in his heavily layered works to the abstraction inherent in his latest offerings.

As he said about his process to Time Out New York’s TJ Carlin in 2009 “Usually they have to go through some really unpredictable stages. Typically, a painting will start and feel like it’s moving in a linear fashion, but then it ends up feeling completely dysfunctional—or actually too functional—and usually needs to have something traumatizing happen to it. So I end up getting ensnared. I feel like that’s ultimately my process: It’s sort of like having to weasel my way out. Usually it means doing something to the painting that runs the risk of possibly destroying it or ruining it. Like, Oh God, you shouldn’t do that! But usually it ends up being fairly liberating in some weird way.”

So too did the inclusion of the geometry of buildings into his more organic depictions, as he told Bomb Magazine’s David HumphreyThe buildings are outgrowths of geometric forms that have been occupying my paintings, like the Ferris wheels. The amusement park is where we go to experience outrageous disorientation. When you’re being traumatized on some roller coaster, you’re in this ahistorical dimension, utterly in the moment… Human beings are constantly searching for ways of escaping the trauma of dealing with the passage of time, death.”

Likewise, with his exhibition at New York’s Derek Eller Gallery, Mile High Psychiatryin March/April of 2015 about which Hyperallergic’s John Yau wrote “In an age of signature gestures and stylistic branding, artists who change and, more importantly, are able to expand the possibilities of their work are few and far between. The most obvious difference is that in his current show DiBenedetto has mostly jettisoned the symbols of the helicopter, octopus and Ferris wheel that routinely showed up in his work. But he has also become more open to impulse and spontaneity.”

DiBenedetto’s current exhibition Evidence of Everything, his first major solo museum exhibition, is on show at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum until the 3rd of April 2016.

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