PRESS RELEASE – Erik Benson: Urban Americana

TAI Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Erik Benson: Urban Americana.

Erik Benson’s new work investigates the physical and psychological infrastructure of the urban environment. Through his unique, collaged acrylic paintings and a new series of watercolors, the artist’s city scapes and urban still lifes create a visual language that communicates the intermingling of “place and placelessness.”

Like a twenty-first century flâneur, Benson wanders the city observing street culture, marginal spaces, and discarded objects. From these unexamined fragments, he creates scenes in which public space intersects with individual and cultural interventions.

In Braintree (seer/thinker), a cold, International Style high rise is set against a graffitied concrete wall in the foreground. Plastered with drawings and spray painted with neon colors,the wall injects personal identity into an atmosphere overwhelmed withanonymity. Elements of human creativity, such as the patchwork of yarn adorning a tree in no title (Knit Bomb), and wry humor, as in the forlorn, smiling face humanizing a plastic bag in Thank you, enliven the otherwise deserted cityscapes.

Benson uses a unique process in which he pours acrylic paint onto sheets of glass, allows it to become solid and elastic, and then cuts it into shapes and peels them off. These pieces are then collaged onto canvas to build up an image, a process that echoes the built environment of the metropolis.

Of his scenes, Benson said in a statement, “They are depictions of mundane found objects collaged together to create a kind of totem to the Everyday… This project started about a year and a half ago as research for ‘garbage’paintings. I saw things discarded on the street and they served as studies for forensic still lifes, implying other connotations than just garbage.”

Benson was born in Detroit and currently lives and works in Minneapolis, MN. He received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is a former New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship recipient and was artist-in-residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. His work has been written about in The New YorkTimes, The New Yorker, theLos Angeles Times, Art in Americaand ArtNews.