The work of Lamar Dodd School of Art assistant professor of drawing and painting Benjamin Britton was reviewed in Art in America earlier this year:
Like many other artists whose works “hover between abstraction and representation”—pick your cliché—Britton employs elements from both ends of that spectrum. At first, the paintings, all oil on canvas over panel, appear overwhelmingly abstract. Yet landscapes, maps, decorative objects, figures and other representative components emerge after extended viewing. Britton—a UCLA MFA who teaches at the University of Georgia—often thrusts the opposing styles together in dynamic compositions.
But while the styles remain largely distinct, there is fluidity in terms of how they function: a color or a gesture might be as much a protagonist as a realistic object is a formal tool. The 90-by-82-inch Fancy dancer (2014) combines areas of calligraphic, looping lines with swatches of colorful floral and plaid patterning, delicately rendered black lace, gestural brushwork and even a snippet of text. Amid the turbulence, two ocean buoys crisscross at the center, in extreme perspective, as if being tossed around by waves. Their metal framework, though not immediately recognizable, visually connects the work’s disparate parts.
Though it's a few months old, I mention it now for several reasons, not least because the review is good note on work by our faculty in the studio. We/I may devote more pixels and words to faculty work in the lab, but for our arts faculty, the studio and the stage is their laboratory. And though it may sound obvious as written, we never want to short shrift the important engagement by our faculty across the entire campus. It's impact on their students and the public is felt far beyond the classroom, yet their work impacts their effectiveness when class is in session. Kudos to Britton and congratulations on the solid review of his work.
Image: Throw me the idol, I’ll give you the whip by Benjamin Britton, 2014, oil on canvas over panel, 50 by 47 inches. Courtesy of the Marcia Wood gallery