July 18 - August 2, 2014
Whether it be imagery of the body or of flowers, there is a strong sense of subject matter captured, cropped and made over in Ben Webb’s work. Subjects are made still, then washes of solvent and opalescent pigment shimmer in layers over the top.
A male head is photographed prone, printed on to thick etching paper and washed in gold. Two works, each a single yellow chrysanthemum, stand strong. The surface on one is scrubbed – the paper dirty with grit – whilst the other is awash with luminescence, the pours of paint another bloom or soft blossoming over the top.
There is a painting of swans on snow, which is really a sinuous interlocking of their necks. Much is white on white, with a light grey ground and the odd black beak. There is an all-over tonal elegance, with the play of edge both sharp and blurred suggesting a certain anxiety within.
There is opposite (the swans) similar poise and delicate vulnerability in an image of the artist’s arm. Captured in a gentle arc hovering above its own shadow, there is a lovely reach to this gentle architecture of self. The way the image is broken and differentially framed is the surprise. This visual shear, along with Webb’s abrasion of the paper surface (with an orbital sander), adds physicality and edge to this work. Are we contemplating life here, or something more cruciform?
List of works
Study 14 (arm) 560 x 890mm framed
Study 19 VI 14 (head) 790 x 1080mm unframed
Study 21 XII 13 (orchid) 960 x 760mm unframed
Study IX 11 (chrysanthemum) 1300 x 910mm unframed
Study 12 I 14 (chrysanthemum) 1300 x 910mm unframed;
Study 12 VII 14 (swans) 1370 x 1000mm oil, ink, enaustic resin & pigment on canvas
All works other than Study 12 VII 14 (swans) are comprised of oil, ink, metallic & opalescent pgments, watercolour & gouache on etching paper