PRESS RELEASE – Erik Benson: Eminent Domain

April 15 – June 4

Artist’s Reception: April 15, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Meghan Ferguson
505 995 0231

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO — Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Erik Benson: Eminent Domain.
Erik Benson’s contemporary landscape paintings are simultaneously dystopian and romantic, exhibiting a discerning intelligence and graphic punch. He works with acrylic paint, which he spreads in thin layers on a glass table to dry before using an X-Acto knife to cut it into shapes. Benson peels off these decal-like pieces and collages them into the picture, building up the surface of the canvas into a low-relief in a process that mirrors the constructed nature of the buildings and urban sites that he depicts.

“I am interested in the mimetic relationship between the architectural subjects in the paintings and the process in which they are produced,” Benson says. “I’m interested in how this construction process allows in a painting vocabulary an exploration of unexamined things.”

The result is work of arresting yet disquieting beauty. His painting, “Condo #1,” depicts a colorless winter sky and a tree dropping the last of its leaves in front of a concrete and glass apartment tower with a kaleidoscopic array of windows.  The dramatic composition, flattened picture space, and almost wabi-sabi aesthetic are reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints.

The New Yorker described Benson’s style as one “in which old-fashioned color-field abstraction merges with a dystopic, Pop-ish interest in the junky emptiness of highway on-ramps, strip malls and corporate offices. …His layered acrylic canvases… [are] works with a jigsawlike density, a gloomy/garish palette, and a keen sense of line. The compositions manage to express humor, loathing and curiosity all at once.”

Despite the desolation of the scenes he portrays, Benson’s paintings retain a remarkable vitality, energized both by his dedicated, thoughtful process and the inherent familiarity of his subject matter. Benson finds truth and beauty in the urban blight that is often left overlooked and unexamined.

Benson was born in Detroit and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He is a former New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship recipient and has an upcoming residency scheduled for 2011 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. His work has been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Art in America and ArtNews.

Eight Modern is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For further information and image requests, contact Meghan Ferguson at (505) 995-0231 or