Prosaically titled Elsewhere, Erik Benson’s paintings describe, through both narrative and formal means, a psychogeography of placelessness that is as irremediably American as the strip mall, as expressively sober as the paintings of Edward Hopper, and as vertiginously drawn toward the Thanatos below the veneer of American optimism as the latest newspaper headline.
that is to say, with a view to formally approaching certain processes of pre-fabrication, modularity and design-Benson’s landscapes of flattened exurbia mimic certain hidden, ubiquitous forces of production through a signature method of collage-as-painting. Painstakingly made by first applying acrylic paint to glass, and, once dry, cutting and affixing it to canvas, Benson’s paintings accrue visual information in the manner of Lego blocks: the better to point up the gaps between space, architecture and its putative inhabitants, which in Benson’s paintings are always missing.
Crafting a genuinely innovative brand of realism whose formal underpinnings connect intimately to a subject matter so ubiquitous it nearly sinks from view, Benson’s paintings of corporate office towers, strip-malls and graffiti-scarred highway barriers appear at once as delicately balanced, nearly abstract compositions of geometric color, and also as particularly beautiful condensations of highly poetic loneliness. Liminal, in-between spaces at the threshold of meaning and non-thought, Benson’s views of the most ordinary of 21st Century landscapes distill, like most great art, a uniquely important measure of mystery and power from exactly those vistas that remain unexamined.