Ana Cristea Gallery is pleased to present “The Baker, the Surfer, the Warden and a Rambler” British artist Benjamin Brett’s second exhibition and first solo at the gallery.
Our brains like to connect dots, to find meaning and create narrative. If there is no meaning to be had, we’ll fill it in as necessary. Brett’s works play at this reactionary impulse to seek, find and resolve, so that all the new data we encounter can be comfortably catalogued as supporting evidence. One can almost see the wink hiding within the works as Brett explores the ambiguity of visual information and the inherent weaknesses of abstraction.
Each painting depicts a unique environment with its own subset of archetypal objects and motifs. Rather than inviting us into a story or context, these devices function as signs without the signified. Brett disappoints our expectations as meaning-makers. Each signifier operates like a MacGuffin, a red herring, a vacuous placeholder. Sure, you can make the argument that each object or motif drives the work’s narrative and offers itself up for interpretation. But the cartoon-inspired paintings will then remind you that their associations are ambiguous at best, your efforts at connection are meaningless and that there is no narrative beyond the confines of the canvas. Accept defeat and enjoy your impotence.
Displacing notions of frame and boundary and disengaging from narrative, each painting reveals a setting where expectation, interpretation and translation collide. All the component parts are endemic to the particular local. Like flipping through a stack of flashcards, there is little signification to be had from one to the other. But by all means, fill in as necessary. That’s half the fun of Brett’s poke.
Benjamin Brett (b. 1982) currently lives and works in London. In 2013, he graduated from the Royal College of Art in London. He is included in the Thames and Hudson publication, “100 Painters of Tomorrow”. He also has an upcoming two person exhibition with Kasper Muller at Westminster Waste (London) curated by Jonathan Watts this January.
For additional information, please contact Ana Cristea Gallery by phone at (212) 904-1100 or by email at [email protected]. The gallery is located at 521 West 26th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues and is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm.