Artists Trail 2020
June 27 - 28
4 - 5 July
Richard James Benbow | Paintings |
Artist Trail Dates From July 2020   

‘My passion stems from my love of the landscape. The protection of our environment is paramount in this age of climate change, global warming, and plastic pollution: the natural beauty of the landscape, the rolling hills, the craggy mountain tops, the tide and flow of waterways. I am a romantic in love with the visual splendour. I am also scared, and ill-at-ease with what lies before us in this near future. 

What is becoming of the world? Line, colour, tone, gestural brushstrokes are my weapons to mobilise the message. Large brushes produce sweeping brush marks, palette knifes scrape through the paint and into the canvas like an animal scratching in dirt: a connection to the earth and soil. Harmony is balanced through a lyrical, poetic, and abstract language that is sometimes scrawled on a, mostly flat, sometimes three-dimensional surface. Variety in scale is important. Painting on a large canvas enthuses me, as it frees up gestural strokes and can be more playful. Experimentation and play are vital. A white primer is my starting point. I will then create washes (thinned down acrylic) to create a background for painting into.

Good brushes in a variety of sizes help me create marks, gestures, and paint what I love. Working in acrylic has become my main medium. Playing with the viscosity of the paint, layering colours, looking at the opacity and translucency of the paint, the colours, and tonal values is an ever present source of interest. I use palette knifes, rags, and even my hands and feet at times. Colour is important to me. My palette ranges from very bright and intense colours to pastel tones. The colour green connects to the life force of the earth and is fundamental to my work.

My practice begins by the simple act of walking. I stake out my territory. A lyrical loiterer I am. My inspiration springs from the absorption of the landscape through my senses – touch, seeing, hearing, and feeling, in a spiritual sense: for our connection to the land is deeper than purely physical, the memories we gather vibrate and reverberate within our hearts and minds. I will often record my walks through photography, video, and note-taking. Writing poetical prose, retrospectively, from studying the resource material, then translating this message in paintings is my task.

The power of abstraction is my tool in configuring my message. I am interested in psychogeography. The world around me I interpret through thought, philosophy and as an idea. Paradoxically the world appears in a concrete existence, however, I don’t attempt to represent external reality but seek to portray the world through shapes, colours, and textures. Rural/ suburban/urban districts, the ‘edgelands’, where the city meets the countryside, are my subjects. My work is inspired by artists including Victor Pasmore, Ivon Hitchen, Albert Irvin, Peter Lanyon, and Adrian Berg. 

By studying these artist’s techniques and manner of observing and painting the landscape, I contextualise my work through the observations of their compositions, use of colour, and brushmarks.  The post impressionists and Vincent Van Gough has always been one of my founding inspirations. Aboriginal art also inspires me, not just the visual impact but also the spiritual connection of the people to the land and aspects of their culture such as the ‘walkabout’ and ‘Dreamtime’.

Recently, I have been referring to online satellite maps. Using these maps as a resource material enables me to create a framework for a composition. I always use places where I have recently walked, in which my memories and experiences are fresh. I will often revisit these sites repeatedly. I paint out the structure of the composition and then work into it over several sessions. Depending on the size of the surface the paintings can be rendered relatively quickly or take many hours or days to reach completion. ‘

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