Upon arrival in Beijing in April 2014 at a geographically remote residency program, an artistic experiment began, challenging the inter-relations of individual subject and environmental space. Howe found himself amidst other participants of disparate origin and nationality who had come to Shangyuan in order to share intercultural ideas and initiate new works.
The semi-conscious adaptation experienced by the migrant residents inspired ‘Monochromatic Anomalies’: a series of intricate yet responsive paintings depicting the peculiar association of subject to physical space. The large monochromatic works interweave themes of dislocation, habitation and the subliminal response of the psyche towards the unknown.
The MONOCHROMATIC ANOMALIES Exhibition will feature over 30 works by Howe, including paintings from two of his most highly regarded bodies of work – the Crowd Series and the Surface Variations Series. But most importantly the show will unveil the recently complete Shangyuan Series.
The Gallery will also make available limited edition prints of selected works and a catalogue with essay by China based curator and critic R.A. Suri.
The paintings depict the apparent portraiture of artists against the relief of their temporary homes; minimal, concrete cells devoid of their own distinct identity, save for their signature barren & derelict state. Embracing a synthesis of both external and internal realities, they also exhibit a sense of the documentary; appearing to be starkly hyper-realistic at first glance.
The use of expressive brushwork, sharp contrasts and spatial distortions illuminate or add information while symbolic elements, informed by the subjects activity, or the artists own reaction to the space, further disrupt the illusion of sheer figurative representation.
The works are neither illusory nor capsules of time, rather, instances of mnemonic stasis wherein an existential query is substantiated.
During the creation of this series, Ben lost 10kg of body weight, had no access to refrigeration and often went for days without running water. Communication with the outside world was minimal.
“Ben Howe is recognized as one of only a few conceptual painters in Australia who avoid either abstraction or have opted to defy predominant art-historical interpretations of figurative mannerism.” R.A. Suri
Born in London, 1977, Ben was brought to Australia at an early age. A creative and introverted child with dyslexia, he experienced bullying at school and a troubled home life.
At the age of 20, he travelled to Europe for the first time. With little skills other than his art, he experienced periods of homelessness and was able to subsist through participating in pharmaceutical trials. After surviving a 4 day kidnapping in Morocco, he finally decided to return to Australia and began painting with a unique view of the world.
Over the course of nearly two decades of artistic evolution, Ben Howe has explored memory, physicality and lived experience.
Now a Melbourne based artist and teacher, Ben Howe completed his Ba. of Fine art at RMIT in 1998.
After teaching for six years in Australia, England and Germany, he returned to RMIT University to complete a Masters of fine art in 2011, where He received a vice chancellors award for academic excellence.
Ben has contributed much to the Melbourne underground art scene – establishing the ‘Pigeon Hole’ art event and studio space in 2008, instigating the Creative Warehouse Network in 2009 and been involved in numerous collaborations, group and solo exhibitions.
He has also organised and curated exhibitions and events in Melbourne, Sydney and Hamburg.
Bens work has been exhibited worldwide and he is the recipient of numerous grants, international residencies and fellowships including the Ucross Foundation, USA, The Shangyuan Modern Art Museum, China, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Australia and SKAM, Germany.
Waterfront Gallery ARI
Ground Floor, Array Apartments
100 Lorimer Street, Docklands 3008
Wednesday to Saturday 11am – 6pm or by appointment
Victoria 0437 922 686