Photo: Paul Bennett in Kendal, North West

Paul Bennett


With the digital age well and truly with us, the advances of visual media mean that almost anything is possible within the boundaries of our imagination. It has been my aim to create work that is most definitely a painting; accomplished by using rich textures, multiple layers, poured paint and brush/palette knife marks. This becomes a way of escaping the everyday, mass produced visuals that we are constantly exposed to and the way in which we now digest and assimilate our visual world. I am a great admirer of photography and photorealism and appreciate the technical ability to produce such works. However, my approach is to record and comment on things that are more than visually apparent: to tease out more than the eye can see, to draw people in and invite them to experience - not just consume - an image. The seascape and abstract paintings created are inspired by memory and experience and are developed using artistic intuition. They are not tied into any specific region or time, they are an eclectic synthesis of place, weather and season. I choose to capture and communicate my experience this way as it reflects life with its unceasing process of observing, experiencing, interpreting, storing - and ultimately - reflecting. The result I strive for is a unique and original visual experience that has captured not only the sense of somewhere/sometime, but also the more subtle notion of recollection. Occasionally I refer to photography as a starting point and as a way to engage with the surface and begin the initial mark making process. After this point it is all an abstract interpretation of the memories I have and places I have experienced. This, is all brought together with constant experimenting and I find the works are continuously evolving and influencing the next. Oil paint is the medium that plays a big part in capturing the essence of a faded memory and lends itself nicely to the way I paint. It works well when applied thickly and can create great depth when worked into the surface sparingly, which leaves previous layers partially exposed. The paint is applied in this way to give the artwork itself a narrative and history, where the process of its creation can be glimpsed at in places - not dissimilar to the way in which the memory deals with the hazy recollection of a place once visited. PORTRAIT My creative process for figurative paintings begins initially from found images (magazines, Internet), which are used as a base from which I begin to sketch out the composition. It's important to my work that the initial reference images are from a mass produced source for a couple of reasons. The first is that the paintings I want to create are completely removed from the polished magazine shoots and plastic people portrayed from which I am referencing. The bombardment from advertising and the media of immaculate people has for many years become the normal way that we absorb our visual life. The act of taking the person out of the context of material advertising is a way in which what is left can be open to scrutiny and reinterpreted. The flat and empty backgrounds I use help enhance this. The second reason why I favour the use of the found image is that there is less of a connection with the subject and in some ways it is similar to painting a still life. The subject is removed as a person (to some extent). This then gives me more freedom to reinvent and create the painting in a more expressionist way and break free from a photorealist portrayal of the subject. The very act of painting something which has already been produced many thousands of times already becomes a completely different entity when it is then used to create a one off and unique original piece of work. The intention is that the end result be a million times removed from the person who at some point posed in front of the camera. The right found image is also hard to come by and can take a long time to find. Finding an image where the subject is not looking directly out of the canvas, in most cases, seems to work best. It helps as it puts an extra barrier between the subject and the viewer; the slight gesture of looking away hints at some kind of emotion and re-establishes a connection on a more subtle level. I like the paintings to have an unfinished feel about them and to communicate being incomplete when compared to what we are normally presented in our everyday relationship with mass produced visuals. Using the combination of oil paint, graphite and letting the paint freely drip and also the use of distinctive mark making all helps in achieving this. However, it is still one of my aims to maintain the slightest hint that there was once glamour. The figure is slightly abstracted and displaced in a way the provokes the spectator to sever any connection with the subject. It then leaves the viewer open to interpret what they will from the painting and take away their own ideas on what they have seen and experienced. read full statement

Location Kendal, North West
Artforms / type of project Drawing, Painting
Tags Landscape, Seascape, Abstract, Expressionism, Contemporary, Painting, Sky, Sea, Scape

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