Ben Duax is a conceptual painter based out of Glasgow, UK. As a painter, his older work focused on the interplay of colours and the legacy of geometric abstraction. His current work investigates contemporary, digital experience, combining methods of digital dissemination with analogue paintings. The central question energizing his work is if physical objects can represent the rapid streams of information that increasingly replace offline social interactions.
Upcoming exhibitions include “Palazzo Monti: Transatlantico” at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, which opens October 11th, and an online group show hosted at www.lite-of-worlds.ca, launching September 25th.
Most of my social interactions take place on my smartphone. Often I can’t remember if I experienced something in person or on social media. I’m interested in how paintings and methods of production can reflect this mediated reality. My impression and recollection of paintings and sculptures often have the quality of a dream diary, rapidly fading from a memory that can not be placed. I can picture work by my peers and have no idea if I saw it in their studio or on their Instagram page. I am curious how this phenomenon of a hybridized digital/offline memory can be expanded upon and even inverted. Instead of looking at a mural shrunk to the size of a deck of cards, what encounter can we imagine where a digital object has the same presence as a mural or history painting?
Online space is something which has been colonized by capitol even more thoroughly than three-dimensional space (meatspace), in a process that paralleled my maturation. Being born in the late 1980s, the major disorienting shift from my youth was not the second Gulf War, or the subprime mortgage crisis, but the shift of the Internet from something almost entirely text-based and counter-cultural, into something almost purely image-based and commercialized. It’s as if, like Gumby climbing into the picture book, we had gone and lived inside the graffiti on the walls of the urinal at the pinball arcade, and over thirty years, the house we built slowly transformed into the sky mall catalogue.
Abstract Paintings, 2019
Christmas in July, 2019
Recently I was thinking about Christmas themed episodes of TV shows that run in the summer. These shows were made for a specific context and were warped by repetition, being seen repeatedly in a different context. I realized that this was a bit of a twentieth-century idea, reruns perhaps not existing, any more than television does in 2020. At the same time, I was writing a travel grant to visit museums to look at specific work, and writing about paintings I had never seen in person. The two subjects had something in common, and I felt it made sense to place them in dialogue. I was creating small copies of paintings in my notebook, without having visited them in person or found a high-resolution version online. I made about a dozen small copies of Asger Jorns monumental painting “The Battle of Stalingrad” and a few other pieces by him, and some of his contemporaries. I collaged these images onto wrapping paper along with other images that were thematically linked. I thought the whole thing could be an investigation into methods of dispersion.