While interning with The Andy Warhol Museum’s Assistant Curator of Art Jessica Beck, I helped organize Screen Memories, a group exhibition with Pittsburgh artists Travis Schwab, Gavin Benjamin, Elizabeth Rudnick, and Atticus Adams. The show explores the complexities, challenges, and fallacies of memory, and each artist’s unique style engages with this theme.
I was most drawn to Benjamin’s work, which feels, to me at least, like a collision between traditional art types and modern displays of wealth and consumption. His series Love and Some Verses mixes Italian Renaissance portraiture and glamorous displays of precious jewels, or “bling,” as he jests. During a recent studio visit, Benjamin spoke about his practice and defined his work as, “a conversation about wealth. It’s about looking at sixteenth-century wealth through a modern lens. There is a bit of tongue-in-cheek that I play with in my images.”
Benjamin creates his still life images alone, in the dark, using a photographic high exposure technique, known as painting with light; this process allows him “to find an inner-self and become one with the work.”
During the shooting of the Once In A Red Moon series, he created a soundtrack, mostly of Lana del Rey’s Ultraviolence songs, drawn to the theatrical grandeur of her music. His still lifes are like “film stills;” they are individual parts of a larger narrative, and “each work has to give off a certain feeling and a certain emotion,” allowing the viewer to create his or her own narrative.
Screen Memoires, co-presented by Point Park University and The Andy Warhol Museum, opens April 16, 2015, at Point Park University Lawrence Hall Gallery, and a special thank you to Point Park Board of Trustees member and Conservatory of Performing Arts Advisory Board member, Jack Tomako.