Erik Benson


b. 1974
Lives and works in Minneapolis, MN and Brooklyn, NY

  • 2001

    Rhode Island School of Design, MFA
    Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

  • 1996

    Minneapolis College of Art and Design, BFA

Solo Exhibitions
  • 2018                      

    Monument, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA

  • 2016                      

    Stacks, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York, NY

  • 2015                      

    Urban Americana, TAI Modern, Santa Fe, NM
    Night Moves, Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, Fond du Lac, WI

  • 2013

    The Park, Arsenal Gallery: NYC Parks Department, New York NY
    Sleepwalking, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art. New York, NY

  • 2012

    All City, Edward Tyler Nahem Madrid, Spain

  • 2011

    Detouring, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York, NY
    Eminent Domain, Eight Modern, Santa Fe, NM

  • 2007

    Finesilver Gallery, Houston, TX

  • 2006

    Elsewhere, Roebling Hall, New York, NY

  • 2005

    Galerie Schuster-Schuerman, Berlin

  • 2004

    Dwell, RARE, New York, NY
    Galerie Schuster, Frankfurt

  • 2003

    Perfect Memory, Finesilver Gallery, San Antonio, TX
    New Paintings, RARE, New York, NY

Select Group Exhibitions
  • 2014

    Multiplicity, curated by Marco Antonini, Mixed Greena and NutureArt, Brooklyn, NY

  • 2013

    Epic Fail, Storefront Ten Eyck, Brooklyn, NY

  • 2012

    Paved Paradise, DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY

  • 2011

    Die Like you Really Mean It, Allegra LaViola Gallery, New York, NY
    Planet of Slums, curated by LaToya Frazier and Omar Lopez-Chahoud, Third Streaming, New York, NY

  • 2010

    Planet of Slums, curated by LaToya Frazier and Omar Lopez-Chahoud Mason Gross Galleries, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
    Interrupted Landscapes, Champion Contemporary, Austin, TX
    Lush Life, curated by Franklin Evans and Omar Lopez-Chahoud, Salon 94, New York, NY
    Utopia/Dystopia, Storefront Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
    Domestic City, organized by Vine Contario and Nichole van Beek, Kid Yellin, Brooklyn, NY
    Future Tense: Landscape in Transition, curated by Dede Young, Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, New York, NY
    Skeptical Landscapes, Herter Gallery, UMass, Amherst, MA

  • 2009

    Re-accession: For Sale by Owner, curated by Philae Knight and Amanda Steck, Flag Art Foundation, New York, NY
    Commune, curated by Dominique Nahas, Black and White Gallery, New York, NY
    In This World, Holster Projects, London
    Artificial Realities, Black and White Gallery, New York, NY
    Tenerife Biannual, Canary Islands

  • 2008

    Lost Horizon, curated by David Gibson Herter Gallery, UMass Amherst, MA
    Future Tense, Reshaping the Landscape, Newberger Museum, Purchase, NY
    All Cut Up, curated by Rita de alencar Pinto, Roebling Hall, New York, NY

  • 2007

    Reality Show 2, Peninsula Arts Center, Newport News, VA

  • 2005

    Built Against Site, Paragraph, Kansas City, MO
    Wasteland: 21st Century Landscape, Roebling Hall, Brooklyn, NY
    Everland, Annina Nosei Gallery, New York, NY

  • 2004

    Suburbicarian, Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
    Void, curated by David Gibson
    City Maps, Curated by Kate Green, Art Pace, San Antonio, TX
    Symbolic Space, HVCCA, Peekskill, NY
    Works on Paper, RARE, New York, NY

  • 2003

    Street Level, CCS Gallery @Bard College, Annendale on the Hudson, NY

  • 2002

    AIM Annual Exhibition, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY

  • 2001

    Thesis Exhibition, RISD Museum, Providence, RI

Awards & Honors
  • 2012

    Visiting Artist, Pratt University, Brooklyn, NY
    Visiting Artist, SUNY, Purchase, NY

  • 2011

    Bemis Contemporary Art Center, Artist in Residence
    Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for Arts Fellowship Award

  • 2007

    NYFA Painting Fellow
    Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program

  • 2006

    Visiting Artist, Mississippi State University, MS

  • 2005

    Participating Artist in the Artist Pension Trust

  • 2002

    Artist in the Marketplace, Bronx Museum of Art, Bronx, NY

  • 2000

    Match Scholarship, Skowhegan School of Art, Skowhegan, ME
    Award of Excellence, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI


I make paintings that are informed by fragments of urban landscape and culture that are found in the everyday. I am attracted to imagery that is ubiquitous within an urban architectonic setting in which elements of plasticity and temporality are depicted in a suspended state of transition. It is my intention that my depictions of these places and their inhabitants describe–through narrative and formal means–a special psycho-geography of place and placelessness that conveys the physical, psychological, and conceptual infrastructure of the urban landscape and its issues. As samplings of urban fragments and spaces, this work attempts to express something new about the neighborhoods and places we inhabit.

I am interested in making painting in an analog sense. I believe that painting is a visual language of thinking and seeing, and this is reflected in my process and imagery. I build my paintings by pouring acrylic paint onto sheets of glass. Once the shapes have solidified and acquired elasticity, they are peeled off and collaged into larger compositions: painting as collage. These collaged constructions create a mimetic relationship between the visual information depicted and the processes with which they are made. For me, these constructions relate to how the subjects are viewed and interpreted in the actual world.

The paintings for Urban Americana loosely relate to street culture and specifically dystopic environments of edge cities. As the title refers, they are depictions of mundane found objects collaged together to create a kind of totem to the Everyday, such as a plastic molded owl from the hardware store attached to a stump with a foam finger sticking on one of its dead limbs. Or a “knit bombed” tree highlighting the act of craft in nature. A lot of these subjects come from finding the objects discarded on the street and painting them in watercolor. 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. In a sense, these temporary monuments summarize the shifting politics and issues of edge cities, so the paintings, too, are shifting and evolving.

– Erik Benson, 2015

  • Spring is Here