FORM, FUNCTION AND FLATTERY

MARTIN BENNETT

The title alludes to how the work is made and to how the eye and mind deals with the imagery. Bennett’s paintings and drawings of denuded trees, statues, airborne birds and meandering rivers are presented in a complex, sophisticated manner that confounds the apprehension of these quiet scenes. Based on photographs taken by the artist, the imagery is projected onto canvas and then painted by hand using various arrangements of bars, stripes and patterns. In effect these formal systems become a second, abstract painting nested within the first, figurative work. To finish Bennett meticulously sands down the oil paint to such a degree that the weave of the canvas begins to show through, creating a third, vivid field of visual reference. In this way much of the inherent tactility and lusciousness of oil paint is suspended in favour of a slow, simmering and more elusive method of presenting the image. The paintings make radiant, simultaneous, optical forays into the regions of abstraction, photography, figuration and the reproduction while being none of these at once. With a keen and sober analysis of the rich history of painting Bennett has for the last ten years made work unique to his vision but deeply aware of references that range widely from Canaletto to Magritte and Morandi to Richter.

Related press: Form, Function, Flattery Flyer,

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