Benjamin Kress paints figures that are strange fusions, amalgamating imagery from the back catalogs of art history, religious iconography, pop culture, and the artist’s own photographic self-portraiture as his invented artistic muse, ‘Nelo’. He digitally combines and hybridizes faces, figures, and landscapes. The final digital sketches are manually painted in traditional methods using oil on linen surfaces.
The paintings bridge slowly handcrafted historical representations of the body with discordant near-instantaneous digital imagery produced through technologically disembodied techniques. Kress layers technologies to observe and cultivate abstractions and optical slippages. The resulting digital chimeras are then reincorporated back into the physical realm through the process of painting.
His works pay homage to significant historical artworks concerned with origins and endings. They allude to propulsive but conflicting trajectories of desire, both physical and spiritual. The paintings link satisfaction and denial, beauty and the macabre, appearing simultaneously alluring and nightmarish. His uncanny figures are on pilgrimage to their respective ‘Paradise Pavilions’; each an imaginary nexus of yearning and satisfaction.
“The paintings reflect something private and elusive. Although they have conceptual and aesthetic implications, many of the choices emerge emotionally. The imagery is not chosen to convey a fixed statement, but for its subjective, emotional resonance. When I combine images, it’s like mixing together emotional flavors to create something new, mysterious, but more emotionally precise.”
- Benjamin Kress, 2022