“My art is the opposite of abstract,” stated Benjamin L.M. His new series of paintings is called Take Flight, and will be shown in New York City at the H215 Gallery, on the 2nd of June, for one night only. The H215 Gallery is located at 55 Bethune Street. The title for the exhibit, and the image for the poster, derive from one of the artist’s newest paintings, titled, People Take Flight Across And Up, which contains images of birds and horses moving from left to right, in gallop, in flight.
“The animals are people,” continued Benjamin L.M. “We all seem to take flight in our own ways, in spirit, in earth. Life is now. There is no time to waste. I’m going to take flight in my mind and enjoy it. I take flight from all the dark and boring parts of life. I go to nature to find my core, give thanks, and realize who is boss. Nature is where we come from. I find inspiration for my creative work within myself, or I look at the sky. I translate the silent voice of my heart into the ideas and pictures of the physical world.”
In his childhood in Australia, Benjamin’s parents had traditional landscape paintings in their home. But Benjamin wasn’t “hit” by fine art until at age sixteen, in High School, when he first viewed the Salvador Dali painting, Living StillLife. “It changed my whole view on art, it altered my life. Dali is a rock star,” Benjamin stated.
At age 18, he encountered the Francis Bacon painting, Head VI. ” Apart from cartoons on the television, art did not exist in my young world. So to see Dali and Bacon was a total shock to me, from out of nowhere. A revelation. I couldn’t believe such things had been created. This screaming head and torso of a man in a box, with the top of his head ripped off with savage brushstrokes. I couldn’t believe the power of it. It was a primal scream. No horror. No blood. It’s quite a minimal painting, if you really look at it. Which makes it even more brilliant. Francis Bacon is punk rock.”
Not long after he viewed the Bacon painting, The William S. Paley Collection arrived in Australia from New York, on loan from The Museum Of Modern Art. Benjamin L.M. viewed the Paley exhibition as he was painting his Death Blow From Above, the work that defined him, on his own terms, as an artist.
The William S. Paley exhibition left a lasting impression on Benjamin–especially the works of Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Rouault, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Francis Bacon. Of the Cézanne painting L’Estaque, Benjamin remembered–“seeing that painting, it was almost psychedelic, the painting shimmered, it was alive.” Also, Picasso’s Boy Leading A Horse, impressed Benjamin deeply. “It floored me, solid colour planes, the touch, the desolation, the power of simplicity. Amazing. “
Benjamin applied to enter Art University, but never attended. “I pulled out once I got in. I never went a day. Serious drug and alcohol abuse followed. I ate just enough food to stay alive. I looked like death,” he said. Yet during that time Benjamin L.M. painted. He also created digital art, designed album covers, and wrote poetry.
One of his artworks, titled Rainbow Sky, from his Spark series, he created during that dark time of drug addiction. “Rainbow Sky is so dense and delirious and over the top. I needed to show that wildness, that delirium, the extra color–so much color that it’s almost sickening, and the darkness below, where you could fall through the fragile earth and go back to your dark past, and that all-powerful, unchanging and solid sky that you can rely on, all the time,” Benjamin described rather poetically.
An image of Rainbow Sky is on the cover of Benjamin L.M.’s first book of poetry, titled Spark.
Even when not engaged in the physical act of painting, Benjamin thinks about painting–ever open to new ideas for new work. “I paint and write and create everything in The Shiny Temple, that’s my studio, that’s where it all happens. I’m home in The Shiny Temple, that place, that space, it’s crucial to my constructions.” Benjamin usually has 2 or 3 paintings going at once. He simplifies his figures to build a bridge to the viewer, creating color planes and space around his figures to produce a powerful clarity. His frequent use of dots in his paintings indicate the soul, or a power beyond the physical. “The drawing is inspired out of divine space, very quick, and then the painting is very sharp and wild– bang, bang, bang. It happens in hour-long bursts across a 2 week period–usually five to ten hours in total for each one. There are not many layers on my paintings now. Three layers usually– not full layers. I want energy, simplicity and action now. I sit on the floor, or, I sit at my table and lean the canvas on my legs– hold the top with my right hand, paint with my left. I don’t use an easel anymore. I like to get closer to the canvas now, a bit more physical, less control, more primal. My way works for me. I go to work. I’m on a mission. I am my work, I talk in the first person, never the third. I couldn’t say how much yes and yeah and joy art gives me– thinking of it, drawing it, photographing for it, painting it, signing it, calling it done, one by one, and then looking at the series on a gallery wall. It’s a miraculous event. I am not alone in it. From divine inspiration, to my art dealers, Marie Kazalia and Mia Dion, doing their important work. It’s not just me. They are all so important. I can’t do it alone. I love the team of it.”
Benjamin is passionate, but he does find time to relax, unwind, leave his studio and have fun–to create a balance in his life. His favorite haunts outside his studio time include bars, restaurants, nature, the homes of friends and family, church sometimes, driving or walking anywhere, art galleries, live music venues, museums.
Benjamin’s dream is to take his art and other creations “as high and wide as possible”.
“Darkness left, the light arrived. Life makes sense now,” the artist said.
Benjamin’s first retrospective exhibition, titled, Hits: 2003-2010, will be held at Juxtapose Studios in Adelaide, Australia, May 13, 2011, opening at 6pm.
Visit Benjamin L.M.’s website to see his paintings, at: www.benjaminlm.com