Sunday, April 15, 2012

Benjamin Terry at RO2

Coral Snake, 2011, graphite and enamel on wood
My art review repost from a show in February 2012

Benjamin Terry’s solo exhibition at Ro2 shows a further development of his style and musing on his self-portrait. Though crowed on the walls, Terry’s paintings commanded attention in their muted white brush stroke that seems to cloud each painting into a misty faded world. Ro2 West Village gallery has a more salon style or close quarter hanging approach. I prefer the more formal white cube museum style, but Ro2’s informal shows are still quite inviting.

I have been following Terry’s work since his time as an undergraduate. He was part of a student show I curated at the University of North Texas in the Cora Stafford Gallery. Terry was producing paintings of his friends. I was first hit by his process of concealing and revealing. The painting style looked purposefully unfinished; much like a Cezanne painting, Terry allows the background colors to peek through parts of the figure. His backgrounds used bright solid colors that were spatially balanced with the figure.

At this current show, Terry focuses on multiple self-portraits in each painting. He has been working like a cubist painter, capturing moments in time in one composition. Only his misty images seem to reflect the memory of time, rather than a photographic documentation of time. This way, time is tied up in the mind and perception. Memory is less solid and closer to a quantum understanding of time and space. Terry is portraying himself as there/not there, much like Schrodinger's cat. Even the blank painted out areas have the potential of Terry having been there.

In this body of work, Terry has pulled out even more color than usual. These paintings rely heavily on whites and creams to edit out the picture or dissolve the self all together. I have said before this stripping away of color limits the emotional content and forces you to focus on the content of the figures, but these works also step further into isolating the figure into a single entity. I’m not sure how far Terry can push the emotional draining of color, before everything disappears.

If you want to see his installation piece, drop by his show at the Lago Vista Gallery in Richland College. Benjamin Terry breaks out of the rectangle with a sight specific piece that violently intersects with his self portrait. You will also find an exciting work by Giovanni Valderas. Ro2’s presentation of Benjamin Terry’s paintings will be up until February 29th, while his piece at Richland College will be up until March 29th.

For more images of the show go to

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