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Bennett Gordon
Men in Hats

oil on board
70″ x 47″


Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist

Lauryn Welch
Painter & Performance Artist

Artist Statement
“I am a Queensland, Australia based artist, I studied a bachelor of fine arts, majoring in painting at the Queensland College of Art. I have always had an infinity for art/art making, my father supported a creative life, and he set the ground work for my life today.

My process and relationship with art is a personal one.  My motivation for creating is to create work that helps me understand the world, to scratch a proverbial itch in my brain. In doing this, I paint portraits that rely less on iconography and more on the emotions and contradictions inevitably within them.  When talking about the effect I want in my work,  I like the phrase ‘read the room’ to describe it.

The intent is to not tell or encourage people to feel a certain way, but to leave the work ambiguous enough for my viewers to create their own narrative. I like to create narratives that subtly critique the absurdity of everyday life, using contradictions to do this, as well as bright colors on a sad face, contradictory colors together, detailed figures on a flat plane.

I tend to be visual, not good with names, but I am inspired by the German expressionists. Most notably, Ludwig Kirchner has been a prolific influence in my art practice. The late music icon Pete Burns, lead singer of the band Dead or Alive is also notable in bringing absurdist undertones into my painting.  I assume like most artists I am inspired by everyday life.”

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Video transcript
“I’ve a feeling that you’re looking at Fernando Botero, but if you are not you really, really, really need to look them up because I think you would get a lot out of him.

At any rate, there’s kind of a South American Flair to this image, and I really appreciate how attentive that you’ve been to the facial features, and the shape of the body, and hands, I love that you’ve articulated each little tooth on the man on the right. You see that each man has his own personality and individuality, and I can see the narrative of the conversation between them.

You may find it valuable to try experimenting with ‘non colors’, colors that fall under the muted or gray spectrum, and add those to your language. I noticed that you’re using pretty much one hundred percent saturation, adding a couple muted colors will make your painting actually more vibrant than it already is.”

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5 responses on "Bennett Gordon"

  1. I really love how these figures are so highly stylized, and yet their expressions are captured with such specificity that they come across as very true to life. You clearly have a real talent for observation!

    One thing I would suggest paying closer attention to is the way you’re using value contrast – In this piece, you reach your darkest values primarily in the small details of your characters. In certain small areas such as the figures’ crooked teeth or thick eyebrows this works well to amplify the tiny quirks of personality that you have such a keen eye for. When you use these darker values to outline limbs or the texture of clothing, however, this contrast is a little more distracting.

    In addition to toning down some of these elements in the figures in the foreground, I think you could also push the value range in the background. Not only would this help carry the viewer’s eye around the composition, it would also add some more depth to your painting.

    Again, I find real strength in your portraits. I think that is where you strike your most successful balance between naturalism and cartoon exaggeration. There’s something really satisfying about the simplicity of these characters’ heavy-lidded eyes, compared to the real nuance and subtle gradation in tone in the folds of skin under their necks… This is a really funny and exciting piece. Excellent work!

  2. I really love this – the characters, the color, the way you’re making such a simple scene so compelling…great work! One thing I wish is for more pleasant surprises for the viewer as we examine the piece – the work really draws us in, and if there were more little (at the risk of sounding cliche) “secrets” hidden inside the work, little things that keep our interest.

    A great phrase Prof. Lieu told me years ago was that a work of art should be successful from 10 feet away, 10 inches away, and 10 centimeters away. Whether in patterning or in variation of brush stroke, giving more excitement into the details of the piece could really go a long way!

  3. What an incredibly exciting piece! You’ve done a great job finding a color palette that is vibrant, but not distracting. Personally, color is very hard for me, so I am really impressed by your eye for it! There is also a really great sense of weight and mass to each figure.

    One thing that really works in this piece is how strange, yet believable, these characters are. I would love to see this same quality emerge in the space that they occupy as well. Right now, other than the unique colors, the setting isn’t as interesting to me as these figures are. You have such a great way of molding the human figure into these creative and distinct characters, and I would love to see you do that same with the environment they’re in. This could even inform us more about who these people are or how we feel about them. Perhaps it’s a matter of slightly zooming out, so we get a bit more of the setting, or adding slight details to the background.

    This is a really lovely piece and I’m very thrilled to see more of your work in the future!

  4. I think you’ve done a great job of developing really distinctive, quirky personalities for these two figures! One aspect I think that is particularly effective is the way you’ve distorted not only the shape of the figures, but also the way you have shifted the scale. There’s a mushiness to their flesh and a lack of structure, especially in the hands on the right hand side that is really adding to their oddness.

    What I’d like to see developed further is the environment that the figures are sitting in, it looks like they might be sitting on a subway based on the shapes that are in between the figures? Right now it’s not clear, and I think showing more about where these two men are would really add to the scene and establish more of an atmosphere.

    Often times in figurative work I find that it’s easy to become too reliant on the figures to carry the piece, when actually the context the figures exist within can be just as important!

  5. Bennett, this is so wonderful. I love the playfulness and eccentricity of your painting. Right away I am attracted to the chartreuse color of the background, I find its vibrancy and implication of space to be very effective. Having your the back wall this color really sets off the figures, and with their faces being pink, the color shines.

    I am also particularly interested in how you are treating your shadows, specifically on the face there is a certain flatness in their depiction, yet an implication of depth through flat color. It could be an interesting challenge to try a painting that is treated with the technique of using planes of flat color to create shadow while depicting a very large space with lots of depth, Great work!

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