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Rediscovering the work of late British artist Anthony Benjamin

Published: 30 January 2018
Carnival by Anthony Benjamin
Carnival by Anthony Benjamin. Credit: Nancy Patterson and Dave Clark

The University of Southampton’s Winchester School of Art is hosting a new exhibition of work by painter, sculptor and printmaker Anthony Benjamin.

The show at the The Winchester Gallery (opening 2 February 2018) is the first retrospective of the artist’s work in 15 years, bringing together the vibrancy and electric colours of his early period (late 1960s and early 70s), to more recent vivid, abstract paintings (late 1990s and early 2000s).

Anthony Benjamin: Currents is also a chance for Winchester School of Art to celebrate the artist’s important association with the School, where he taught in the mid-1960s. During his time there, Benjamin further developed his relationship with renowned visual artist, musician, music producer and Winchester alumnus Brian Eno – who was his student and friend, the two sharing a long-term written correspondence about the creative process.

Commenting on Benjamin’s work, exhibition co-curator and Director of The Winchester Gallery, Dr August Jordan Davis, said: “Anthony Benjamin’s work was greatly influenced by his travels throughout his career. He worked in many different countries, including in London, Paris and Italy, and beyond Europe, in Canada, the USA and North Africa. For example, the sights and sounds of Marrakesh in Morocco, which he visited with partner Nancy Patterson, intensified his passion for capturing and creating vibrant encounters through his art.”

This new exhibition includes a range of Benjamin’s printmaking, painting and sculptures. In particular, it presents a series of screen prints titled Roxy Bias Suite, produced by the artist with silkscreen printer Kevin Harris. These six colourful and visually impactful pieces are a response to intense conversations Benjamin had with Brian Eno about creativity and electronic music. At this time, Eno was experimenting with synthesised sounds as a member of the 1970s band Roxy Music.

Currents also features a number of small sculptures in wood, metal and plastics. These smaller scale sculptures indicate Benjamin’s interest in how traditional sculptural materials such as bronze could commune with newer synthetic materials like neon-coloured Perspex in alluring geometric compositions. They are also what remains of Benjamin’s sculptural experiments of the 1960s. Critically well received in the art press of the time, many of the larger scale versions have been lost over the years, although a few remain in private collections in North America.

Archive material in the show includes a number of intricately decorated letters exchanged between Benjamin and Eno, who shared an interest in cutting-edge experiments across the arts. In addition, Brian Eno has created a new installation for the exhibition. The piece uses computer software from his ongoing series 77 Million Paintings to layer images, potentially creating millions of new combinations and pictures – in this case, sourced from images by Benjamin.

The exhibition, which runs until 23 March 2018, is co-curated by Dr August Jordan Davis, artist Nancy Patterson and independent curator and art historian Stephanie Sinclair, Owner of Abbesses Arts Agency.
 

Roxy Bias Suite by Anthony Benjamin
Roxy Bias Suite by Anthony Benjamin. Credit: Nancy Patterson and Dave Clarke

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