Erik Benson


Painter said...

Erik Benson @
NY 10001
New York, NY
New York

Cooky Blaha said...

the skulls really do a lot for me

devinlevin said...

It is just odd how much work around has skulls in it
of late. Why is this? Anyone?

kelli said...

We were mentioning the whole skulls and skeletons thing before. It is an easy way to add darkness or morbidity and an art historical reference to a painting while still being ironic because of the lowbrow heavy metal connotations. I'm guilty too- I put some tiny fetal skulls carved into a cliffside. It's hard to resist. Deer and cute girly stuff also are crack cocaine for some.

Cross said...

Some symbols (skulls, rainbows) are so explicit that they are nearly equivalent to using text in a painting. But these overused (or, as Kelli said 'easy') references don't add much to the painting, and they can actually stop us from looking deeper. Sublime-ish, morbid-ish, hopeful-ish. Keeping the 'ish' out of painting makes the artist work harder but can actually produce something more real and valuable.

dharmabum said...

this painting has a lot going for it- lose the skulls and rainbows. Should we be thinking about the laborers who built the pyramids? No more than they are thinking about us.

no-where-man said...

y are there so many songs about rainbows.

i am going to suggest a huge cliche 4 a cliche and that in our current political environment these signs/symbols hold a particular resonance.

closeuup said...

whitney & bobby are getting a divorce. we need more paintings like the marriage of whitney and bobby. i really liked those 2.

Cooky Blaha said...

I love it when the ny times fashion section is one step ahead of contemporary art


kelli stop upstaging the show at koenig with your work in the back room

kalm james said...

I’d agree with you folks who think that the sculls and rainbows are hack clichés. However in this case Benson is trying to capture a scene from reality, namely the graffiti that was painted on some retainer walls at a construction site or something, and is therefore using the symbols within some kind of mediated social context. Still I guess he could have picked other symbol, but would it have the same relevance regarding reality?

The technique he (Benson) uses is also pretty “distanced,” painting acrylic on glass then pealing it off, cutting it into strips and shapes, then sticking it in the paintings with medium, in essence collage. There seems to be a whole school of tediously labor intensive work, which has some tricky or gimmicky twist on the process. Does anyone think this advances painting or is it just the latest manifestation of luxury surplus value décor?

Wow the “Times “ fashion section commenting on the proliferation of sculls, you know it over now!

closeuup said...

I like that technique when Joyce Kim does it.

It kind of reminds me of Colorforms, the old kids toy. Like a DIY Colorforms

closeuup said...

Re: fashon/design/illustration and fine art. Obviously, those who work in the commercial art world have been looking at contemporary art for a long time now. And nicking techniques and subject matter. Thats zeitgeist yno. It's now a 2 way street.

Art directors and such will go on things called "Inspiration trips" that their companies pay for. Sweet.

There are even consultancies now that go out and gather this material for companies to keep them up to date w trends in contemporary art. You dont even get to go out on the expense account :( Powerpoint presentation quarterly. The kinda shocking thing is that some galleries participate in this-- allowing their artists images to be used. Do they get paid? Does the artist have to approve? I dont kno.

zipthwung said...

THese allways remind me of pat the bunny - and I mean that in a good way. Texture.

This also reminds me of Nigel cooke.

I wonder about the skulls - I dont think anyone cares if skulls are overused other than eye fatigue. I love skulls. No one wears that one - name that artist.

But it does seem like easy content, something I am opposed to on moral grounds. Make your own skull, dont resort to the cartoon one. THis isnt thundar the barbarian land.

And finally, what does it mean, this existential landscape business?

I'm a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I'm a three line whip, I'm the sort of thing they ban
I'm a walking disaster,
I'm a demolition man

Cooky Blaha said...

Roebling Hall's gotta try a lil harder on the release:
"Erik Benson’s paintings describe, through both narrative and formal means, apsychogeography 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."

Except for the skulls, I dont even really actively dislike this painting, so no hard feelings Erik. The other painting on the site is better, I think.

kalm james said...

cooky, is that press release for real, you didn't tweak it to make it more vapid? That alone makes the paintings look worse in memory.

zipthwung said...

True or false:

Artists keenly observe and then translate these observations into gut wrenchingly sublime and uncanny institutional critiques.

2) As an insider in the art world do you feel keenly critiqued by this painting.

3) As a citizen of the New York, do you feel the poignancy of this painting?

I dont. But that doesnt mean you cant. Indeed, were I a painter of skulls and rainbows, I might sneer at the opportunism of Erik Benson. What balls. What gives him the right? I was doing skulls and rainbows since last October. Magazine that is.


Anyone know a quick way to get access to this online?
I lost my student ID.

Mark said...

More skulls coming to Cheim Reed

burrito brother said...

...a little Nigel Cooke graffiti, some Sarah Morris buildings, some Peter Doig rainbows, skulls from everybody... this guy's an empty vessel for other people's ideas...

zipthwung said...

I dont think theres anything wrong with appropriating what you like. In a way this is better than much contemporary pop art. Why shouldn't the art world canibalize itself.

Save me some ribs.

rainbowandskull said...

Skull and Rainbow is my name. I like those elements in art not to interested if it is tredy or not. Deers are nice too. If it is done well.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rainbowandskull said...

Hey I really like this painting. I looked at his site too. This is a show I will check out.
I don't know how successful the people are on here I think it really varies but none the less they could with hold useless and sometimes cruel comments but when you put your work out there, you are putting it out there.

zipthwung said...

I dont think i was being cruel or useless. I think I raised some good constructive points. Give this artist the benefit of the doubt, but dont go easy, because easy is not what NY is about. Ny is about pain and Calvinistic cocaine abuse.

The statement is gawdawful. I know its supposed to be funny, but its out there, and out there its not treated as funny. I guess Joan Didion wasnt available?

devinlevin said...

i'm not sure Peter Doig invented rainbows and I think buildings were in artwork before Sarah Morris.
the work doesn't really look too close to others. i think it's pretty interesting.

zipthwung said...

I got no questions
I got all answers
I give no reasons I got no time
I live in splendour
I'll die in chaos
I'd love to stay but I got no time

closeuup said...

like a rainbow in the dark

u fill in the lyric

zipthwung said...

this also reminds me a bit of

alexis rockman

albert spier

but everything reminds me of albert spier.

zipthwung said...

"I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the
most of us...very hard to explain why you're mad, even
if you're not mad..."

no-where-man said...

successful is most likely a
relative term - so are the chances that most people that talk about Art make it.

but what is the rainbow a stand in for beyond the visual - "the covenant God made with man not to destroy the world in such a way again"?, a media company? - gay pride? - one of my gay coworkers refueses to go to pride because he hates the flag so much "looks like something a dyke from santa fe came up with" ? - a happier place Where "bluebirds sing"? - Great Ridgepole, uniting yang and yin.? - the Pot of Gold?

kelli said...

Rainbow are we being cruel? It bothers Painter when people do that. I like this painting. The fact that a lot of people use an image might make it more interesting not less. Still I think maybe the way somebody like Paul Thek used bones and skulls was more specific to the work's meaning and less of a motif.

zipthwung said...

what is a motif?

". . . truffles of truth created, as ancients surmised, during storm, in the instant of lightning blast. . . "

and then deep fried.

I made sweet potato fries - anyone know how to make them crispier?

Cross said...

hotter oil

clement said...

This seems geometrical, movements up and across. Without the rainbow, its color and direction, the painting would be more static than it is. But the rainbow also keeps us a bit grounded because the dark and light patterns on the wall seem to move like music up. Now I see color in the sky and that seems to speak to the rainbow below. And the dark of the upper building and the dark of the lower sculls sandwich the Oreo cookie. When I first saw this painting, I thought of Maria Elena Vieira da Silva. Mostly it was the handling of the middle wall.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about this painting except it is the same color as the day outside on this end of a typhoon day.

At koenig, I noticed kelli Williams, is that you kelli? if so, wow, the work is cool--plays with your head a bit, but very powerful! Thanks cooky, I'm just always walking round in the dark--comes with distance.

kelli said...

Hi Brent, that's me. RainbowandSkull brought up a good point. Maybe some criticism is not constructive. Artists are a family after all, maybe a dysfunctional one.

closeuup said...

Most criticism is about control, I find.

When people look at my work, I like to ask: what do you see, and how does it make you feel? I get good information from that.

epilepticadam said...


sweet potatos have a different starch level than 'regular' idaho fries... so cut the fries 'thinner' perhaps(? not sure how chunky your fries are).

i also highly recommend yams rather than sweet potatos(stores sometimes do not distinguish these things- yams are sweeter and more orange..you may want to explore this as there is a difference)

with fries, wash in a bowl and swish them around to get the starchiness out; then place and spread on paper towels to dry to get the moisture out. heat the pan with vegetable or canola oil and make sure the fries are all spread out once placed on the frying pan (flip them over every once in a while but not too often as you want it to get crispy but not burnt, don't forget to salt as you cook). lower the heat a bit (but make sure that the hotness is kept) and place one of those 'flat net things' over the pan so the oil does not splash everywhere. if you really want delicious fries- use fresh farm animal lard.

as they finish, take some out of the pan and add more to fry. place the finished ones on paper towels to absorb the moisture/oil...repeat...

no-where-man said...

it is true.. i think i hit every opening in c-sea tonight the best and your on the best apporch.

home recipes.

i mean - y bother

the kids, the work.

you have it all down, the art, it not so much matters

no-where-man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Martin said...

i don't like anything about this, the rainbows and skulls just distract from how bad it would be without them. maybe that is something to do... if you are making a bad painting add some rainbows and skulls to absorb all the negative attention.

what is the technique? he pours paint onto glass, cuts out shapes with an x-acto, and collages them?

i like the thought of the process, the pulling and peeling of a sticky skin of paint off the glass, more than the banal images that are produced. it seems too sensual (the initial painting and pouring onto glass) and visceral a process to be in service to clichés and notions of distance.

zipthwung said...

"And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest".

I thought that was subversive.

I yam what I yam.
Thanks for the cooking advice.

kalm james said...

Part of being an artist, maybe one of the biggest parts is being the focus of criticism. Zip was talking about societal critique as an artistic practice, well one of the functions of art is for people, (the observers) to evaluate and criticize works of art. Sure gratuitous vindictiveness doesn’t accomplish much, but everyone has a right to have an opinion. It takes guts not only to have and express an opinion, but to accept criticism even though it might be stupid crap (or appear that way). Like kelli said artists are part of a family (kind of) I think we’re a tribe. Give and take, don’t take your self too seriously. Time’s too short, get to the good stuff.

wade said...

Oddly like the images of this berlin ice rink collapse. I thought of using it for painting... Only the photos of that accident are much more beautiful, than the painting, but sorry to anyone who died in the collapse.

dharmabum said...

Stunning. Looks like a Friedrich.

dharmabum said...


gazinia said...


I don't know how many people use a similar method of painting on glass or plexy and peeling the paint off and affixing it to canvas but Beatriz Milhazes is the only artist I know of who uses it. With her it makes a lot of sense with the imagery. Decorative arabesques. The decorative elements (flowers and such) are done in this collage-method. It gives her work a wonderful surface -- akin to the peeling, sanded surface of pottery barn faux-vintage furniture, but better of course.

By the way, speaking of artists as families -- I owe alot to you, Martin, for giving me your discounts on art books when you worked in Borders Philly.

Thanks man.

Martin said...

i am very grateful for the anonymous criticism that i received on this blog - stuff about how it would look good on fabric - maybe not meant as a compliment but something i would like to do actually - and someone else who didn't like the painting said it was like easter eggs that didn't get found until halloween. yes... that was a good one... i liked it and keep thinking of it.

gazinia - wow! that was a long time ago! thanks, whoever you are... i can't remember all the people you might be.

rentboy said...

I have not read the above comments yet. So maybe my observations of the work have already been discussed. The images in this show bring to mind nigel cook and a generally banal approach to kitchy landscape. Nigel cook's use is much better and excution way beyond this work. The execution is collage application of acrylic paint, maybe laboriously applied, but not with a mastery of craft. This image looks much better than the actual work in person. It looks and feels like "art" that hopes to be SOLD, possibly at an art fair. It is so far from painting, drawing, collage, discovery. It's more like uncrafty craft sold at tourist shops. Odd to find this on NYPAINTER blog?

zipthwung said...

"Nigel cook's use is much better and excution way beyond this work.

You sound like a student.

Nigel cooke has ok chops but nothing thats "way beyond" this work. Get a grip. Hyperbolic statements like that make you seem ignorant of the first tenent of art - thou shalt not be fooled by crapsmanship.

WHy is the so called lack of craft a problem, anyways?

zipthwung said...

DId the show sell?

zipthwung said...


rentboy said...


maybe i still am a student, hopefully we are all learning....

"Nigel cook's use is much better and excution way beyond this work."
IS A JUDGEMENT AS IS YOURS: "Hillary Harkness paints better (in reference to Amy Morkien)" and "Nigel cooke has ok chops"

My point is to comment on what is in the public art realm. good or bad. That's all. If you want to think about it, fantastic! If not, tha'ts cool too

btw, your art tenents are not mine.

btww, craft is employed in making these "paintings" and unclear to me the connection to the image, historic reference. my bias is towards koonslike craftsmanship (his assistants not hirst's painting assistants) but i can equally appreciate choices that undermine the privileging of craft and craftsmanship, such as joyce kim who was referenced in this blogstream

wade said...

Lack of craft -- Because the artwork is a physical object not an idea, or idea alone. No one would ask about a bridge "why do you care about the engineering". This does not mean the artists hand reveals all, and craftsmanship by itself might as well be a nicely made table, which is fine in its own right.

Point is, if its a painting, drawing, installation or whatever, if you think the idea alone carries it, go read your frigging books and forget about art.

zipthwung said...

Well certainly ideas are as important as the execution. Platonic solids cant exist without material though, and neither can the Tao manifest itself. Am I leaving anything out?

Nigel Cooke is good at blending. SO are Koons assistants. So is Rosenquist. Blendeing. Like when you smudged your pencil in high school to get a gradient. A full tonal range.

On the other end of the spectrum is unblended paint - singular strokes as from a mixed palette.

Apples and oranges.

We are all students. But I get an A.

camron said...

This painting is so 1996.

NNCGT said...

his show at rare was better

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