Benjamin Britton

Chiaro Award, 2018

A portrait of a person outdoors.

Artist Statement

My work often appears at first to function like a dense and colorful abstract painting, but contains representations of nameable things and places. I work with color and space to reflect the mechanisms of sensation in the body, to inspire a feeling of motion, and to continually reward the investigation of pictorial space. The paintings are first about the pleasure of looking; I’d like to make paintings that make the viewer feel as though they have super powers. I am inspired by experiences where the present is marked by intense but indeterminate sensations of beauty mediated by the plasticity of memory, cognition, sensation, and future intentions. By representing how memory is constructed and perceived, there’s an opportunity for a painting to show how the feeling of one’s location is actually always the feeling of multiple locations. We make the present out of the sensed, residual, and formative.

While At Headlands

I’m deeply thankful for the time to work on my new painting project, List-less, at Headlands this year. The paintings in List-less propose a loss of coherency between the knowledge of where and when our body is located in the landscape and the sensation of our location in space and time. In brief, the paintings allegorize this sensation to explore the human relationships to our ecological conditions. Like emotional relationships with other humans, these relationships are often deeper and more complicated than one normally ends up accounting for, and are often revealed just at the moment our emotions get the best of us. The ability of the painted object to frame an experience can speak to our facility for fantasizing the past and projecting future roles upon the landscape, reframing the present in view of the future, and can help to reconcile our inner experiences with our surroundings.