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Trudy Benson: Actual/Virtual

Mike Weiss Gallery
520 West 24th Street, 212-691-6899
October 13 - November 12, 2011
Reception: Thursday, October 13, 6 - 8 PM
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Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Actual/Virtual, a new exhibition of paintings by Brooklyn- based artist Trudy Benson. The show’s title “Actual/Virtual” illuminates the dynamic between illusionary space and the physicality of materials as Benson pushes paint into the realm of the viewer both physically and optically, delivering a visceral punch via large-scale electric-hued abstract paintings.

Benson’s fervor for the physical act of painting is readily evident in her mark-making; her viscous gestures evoke the onomatopoeic language of comic books taking shape as bold splunks!, shoops!, and splats! that emerge sculpturally from the surface of the canvas. The singularity of the mark – as considered from an art historical context – is important to the artist who says “I want the brushstrokes to be a 3D image of what a drawing of a brushstroke would look like.”

These marks are simultaneously expressive and graphic, rhythmic and frenzied, appearing as if they could float away were they not tethered to the canvas via an underlying grid or background of solid color—a device frequently used by the Abstract Illusionists of the mid 1970s in order to generate the semblance of depth and space. It is in this space that Benson’s interest in emergent geographies is revealed. Allusions to the flattened screenscapes of virtual worlds can be found in Benson’s intuitively constructed compositions and the tension between forms and voids speak to her fascination with the cosmos as filtered through cosmetically altered space photography.

Benson’s color palette is decadent. Pure unadulterated color, lustily saturated, is often squeezed from the tube directly onto the canvas. Non-traditional tools such as brooms, squeegees, and even hair picks are used to slather, drag and manipulate the thick paint. There is an element of chance as thick paint pulled by its own weight breaks and tumbles leaving a trail of marks. Areas of raw canvas or panel are left exposed to break the illusion and thick globs of paint protrude from the picture plane reminding the viewer that this is a painting in-and-of-itself.

Born in 1985 in Richmond, Virginia, Benson received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009 and her MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 2010. This is her first exhibition at Mike Weiss Gallery and second solo exhibition in New York. Her works have been included in multiple group exhibitions in both New York City as well as the Richmond, Virginia area.
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