a flicker in the field: Benjamin Britton

2 December 2021 - 8 January 2022
Composed of five paintings installed together, a flicker in the field is a powerful culmination of an arc of work of the past decadeIt spans 7’6” high and 34’2” wide. Each oil and acrylic on panel painting is 7’6” x 6’8”. The piece makes an invitation to look through its colorful and peculiar layering of landscape, perspectival hard-edge abstract forms, and trompe l'oeil gouges containing representational vignettes that float on top of the paintings. 
 
In these works the act of looking is foregrounded through the mutability of the space and dizzying changes in the conditions of the paint application; speed, direction, pressure, humidity, and temperature. A flicker in the field inspires you to move your body both towards and away from its surface to take in the scale and cruise the minute details. Along the way, one sees a goofy fondness attributed to place, plants, and creatures. Trompe l’oeil elements literally burrow into the picture surface, revealing subjects connected by what is unseen, underneath, and underground. The revelatory observance of something huge seems to be on offer because of the scale and subject, but instead of a declarative production of an encounter with the external sublime, one is propelled into a very personal and subjective navigation of representation and abstraction. 
 
Visually, the paintings posit relationships between the representational images and abstract passages. Britton’s recent work is about “how it looks to think about the feeling of a place” in an entanglement of the past, present, and future. The subject is in one sense the recall of memory, in this case, five experiences in North America that had significance for the artist. In another sense it is about future projections and the phenomenal experience of the present. The paintings present the duration of time as a continuous relation of desire between a human consciousness and its ecology. Through the idiosyncratic visuality of the work, they also present a provocation to think about why a better world seems unreadable to us.

 

 Benjamin Britton is a painter who was born in Palo Alto, CA in 1976, and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY in 1999 and his MFA in painting from UCLA in 2008. His work has been shown primarily in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Atlanta. His paintings are in the collections of the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, the Ballinglen Museum of Fine Art, and the West Collection in Oaks, PA. Britton’s work has been reviewed in Art in America and the LA Times, among others, and included in New American Paintings magazine. Britton has had solo shows at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica, and Frederieke Taylor Gallery in New York. He is a recipient of the Chiaro Award in painting and an Artist-in-Residence awardee at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA, a recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland, and a J.B. Blunk Residency from the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, CA. He teaches painting at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.