M.Y. ART PROSPECTS is pleased to present Like a Plant, our fourth solo exhibition by Belgium based German painter, Hans Benda. The exhibition features a total of fifteen small landscapes and portraits of women, all painstakingly executed in oil on wood panels. Benda, a mid-career artist, has long pursued these two subjects, “the biggest clichés of art” as he half-jokingly puts it. This exhibition well testifies to their universal appeal to humankind throughout history.
Whether landscape or portrait, Benda’s Realist paintings are almost completely invented. Benda begins his paintings by meditating on photo materials he either finds or takes himself. But along the way that image evolves into a totally imaginative creation with a life of its own. “What looks like a portrait/landscape is not a portrait/landscape,” he perversely remarks. He puts together ‘patterns’ of horizon, trees, foregrounds and sky until he arrives at a unique landscape of the mind. Applying the brush layer upon layer, he builds an image that documents all stages of his memory since the work’s inception.
Benda’s acclaimed portraits of young contemporary women mimic the Northern European art tradition of depicting the anonymous, idealized woman who rivets the viewer with her gaze and gestures of ennui. The backgrounds of Benda’s women portraits are intricately patterned walls, decorative furniture, pots of plants, or mysterious doorways, offering the viewer a fascinating variety of interpretations for a single painting. By extending the notions of established beauty to the fringes of kitsch, Benda manages to convey an intense and personal desire for femininity. Born in 1960 in Berlin, Hans Benda studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe, Germany. His solo and group shows have been held in Germany, Belgium, France, United States, Japan, and Bangladesh. His exhibition “Kissing the Ground” in 2004 was reviewed by Grace Glueck for The New York Times. For this exhibition, there will be a catalog with a preface essay by the NY-based art critic, Jill Conner.