|"Doubt Begins at Breakfast (double self-portrait)" oil on board 126 x 170cm|
|"This Could Go Either Way" oil on board 77 x 55cm|
|"In Two Minds (double self-portrait)" oil on board 105 x 95 cm|
|"The Influence: Leonard Cohen consoles Nick Cave" oil on board 122 x 110 cm|
|"The Late Shower" oil on board 60 x 75 cm|
Ben Smith is an Australian artist meeting with some recent success, winning awards and being a finalist for many more. It's easy to see why. In addition to some solid drawing and painting technique, his images display a keen, insightful wit. In his own words he tries to "combine the beautiful and the unsettling, the humorous and the sincere, the banal and the uncanny". The dissonance of these juxtapositions are what hook the viewer. It's not unlike how the mind works all the time, one part of the brain thinking one way, while another part is off in the opposite direction. Thoughts can diverge into multiple tangents. Emotions can layer up so that they're almost impossible to describe. And sometimes the difference between dream, reverie and conscious thought can blur and meld until we mistakenly remember one as another. Ben Smith's work lives in this reality, the nebulous and peculiar world of our ordinary psyches. Don't get too distracted by some of the more explicit meanings in some of these images. The "joke" about about Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave in "The Influence" might require some familiarity with their music but the painting works even without it. And the two expressions on the double self-portrait "Of Two Minds" may convey the direct point of the title but really, it's the duck that really gets you.
You can see more at his website bensmith.viewbook.com or at his gallery's website: www.dickersongallery.com.au
Thanks to vivianite.net for posting his work before me.