Team (bungalow) is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Trudy Benson. Entitled Cuts, Paints, the exhibition will run from 28 October through 16 December 2018. Team (bungalow) is located at 306 Windward Avenue in Venice, CA.
The exhibition title Cuts, Paints speaks both to illusion and to labor, for in Benson’s complex canvases the presence of collage is entirely fictive, a hallucination created by a proficiency with her chosen materials. A master of pictorial effects, Benson orchestrates dense, seemingly chaotic paintings albeit ones whose very existence requires meticulous planning.
Bands of irregular, spray-painted squares provide the backgrounds and structural supports of these new works. The reading of this simple layer is frustrated by an array of painterly events all of which “take place” in areas that have been masked off by tape. The surface is further complexified by a three-dimensionality signaled by impasto, paint squeezed directly from the tube and raised edges resulting from numerous layers of paint abutting tape. This surface quality produces varying degrees of visual friction that slow or speed up one’s eye, catching it in grooves, rolling it over and along frostings of paint or swirls of brushwork. The restrained palette of previous paintings allowed the focus to remain on the range of shapes, line and mark-making, but Benson’s latest formal reduction has foregrounded her prodigious skill as a colorist — Wasabi greens, desert motel pinks, glowing-Home-Depot orange and an array of blues to make Matisse blush fill diaphanous blocks of gardens in bloom crisscrossed by asphalt streets, while overhead, raised train lines wind through vibrant weather systems.
The initial dialogue about Benson’s work revolved around its relationship to computer graphics programs — a central post-internet trope. Lately the discourse has shifted to her material-centered approach to the modernist program. Neither agenda does her justice and Benson’s new paintings are made poignant by a very apparent knowledge of their status as antiquated objects in a digitized world. Immediately visible is an invigorating love of painting, from its materials and history to the physical acts of making and viewing. These recent paintings are untethered from a singular focal point, employing a denser, pervasive weaving of elements mapping myriad rabbit holes for the eye to wander down. This all-over quality is achieved by having narrowed the visual language to a predominant trait — the orthogonal. In this manner, the connections between line and shape, figure and ground, and foreground and background are both complicated and elucidated.
A distant view of the works might lead the viewer to believe that they are looking at a whole that has been collaged together from scraps of rejected paintings. Much pleasure arises from attempting to deconstruct and decipher Benson’s painted puzzles, false tapestries that sample and remix the means of paint application. If painting is indeed dying, Benson’s approach is to bandage the corpus in order to stop it from bleeding. Her paintings suture together the spectator and a scarified surface using an optic overload to masque, or occlude, a skeptical anti-essentialism. Benson’s work has always been resolutely abstract, even schematic, a means of illustrating sets of relationships; through diagrammatic distillation she achieves a rich complexity that is humanistic, even ontological.
Taking in the entire composition can initially feel like an exercise in willpower, trying to focus on the whole while corralling yourself from eagerly searching out the path of a line or sinking into a pool of color. However, these variable tangents are an invitation into the work, the overall effect revealing itself through an investment in slowness gradually making connections between all facets of the painting. Imagine finding yourself stopped in traffic; everyone’s windows are down and the songs from multiple radio stations serendipitously synch up in a lush orchestration of rhythm, melodies and tones.
Benson has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in New York and in Europe. This is the artist’s first solo in Los Angeles and her first show at Team.