David B. Smith Gallery is proud to welcome back Portland, ME - based painter Leon Benn for his third solo exhibition with the gallery, Nurse Logs.
With one eye fixed on the primordial forest floor and the other trained at a horizon on fire, in Nurse Logs, Leon Benn tempers the harsh realities of our times with his ecstatic chromatic vision. References to 17th century European Sottobosco still life tradition, nods to often overlooked ecological environs, and Benn’s good-natured sense of humor are woven throughout his canvases.
Benn’s playful curiosity is immediately evident, as he guides the viewer through a historical journey that begins on a dark forest walk, leading into the cold light of day. The title of the exhibition, Nurse Logs, sets the conceptual framework for the show. In the forest, as a fallen tree decomposes it offers plentiful resources that sustain other life as its nutrients are returned and recycled back into the ecosystem. Through natural processes of generation and destruction balance is maintained in the forest, where the smallest organisms such as fungi, bacteria, and moss, play crucial roles. Envisioning himself as a “voyeuristic artist,” Benn leans away from reproaching humanity’s ill effect on natural settings, instead favoring an analytical approach in what he describes as, “framing an artificial humanity alongside the strange and mystical ecological stirrings of the forest world.”
Bridging languages of nature, human intervention, and art, Benn’s inclination towards observation is apparent in his detailed renderings of forest scenery. In Nurse Logs, Leon Benn’s thoughtfulness and skill shine as he carefully contrasts poles, juxtaposing delicate lichen blooms with a volcanic eruption, abandoned pizza and Eastern box turtles.
Leon Benn lives in Portland, Maine. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA) and the University of California, Los Angeles (MFA). He has had solo exhibitions at Grant Wahlquist Gallery; Portland, ME, David B. Smith Gallery; Denver, Roberts & Tilton; Los Angeles, Stems Gallery; Brussels, and Carter & Citizen; Los Angeles. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at Able Baker Contemporary; Portland, Space Gallery; Portland, Brand New Gallery; Milan, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, James Harris Gallery; Seattle, and Lisa Cooley; New York, amongst others.