Magazine article Artforum International

Martin Bennett: Clint Roenisch Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Martin Bennett: Clint Roenisch Gallery

Article excerpt

In a coincidental prelude to "The Geometry of All Four Seasons," an exhibition of Martin Bennett's new oil paintings, the doorway of Clint Roenisch Gallery was littered with maple leaves. Suggestive of a loose grid in faded tones of brown, rust, green, and gray, the leaves provided a fortuitous tactile complement to the largest picture on view, Static Image Painting/Brown/Boat/Villa Borghese, 2006-2007. The work features a not-so-scenic nature scene based on a photographic image--taken, as the title makes plain, on the grounds of the famed Roman museum--featuring birds, a man rowing a boat, and a facade of classical architecture in the distance.

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But such details become increasingly incidental as one considers the processes to which the source snapshot was subjected. Bennett applied an allover geometric grid, made up of triangular and irregularly shaped motifs, to the picture, then meticulously sanded down the painted surface so that the weave of the canvas began to show through. The resulting silhouette--which resembles a silk-screen print--critiques the stereotypical association of "serious" painting with handcrafted impasto. The uneven shading and highlights on the grid's shards and facets connote, but do not declare, the optical experience of refraction associated with effects of a camera lens contending with glare. Distorted and abbreviated details--such as the ripples of water, the terrain on the riverbank in the foreground, and an almost caricatured depiction of ducks--register as the possible outcomes of photographic enlargement or digital manipulation of a smaller source image. As with other works in Bennett's series "Static Image Paintings," 2000-, this obvious fabrication of the pictorial surface is analogous to the manufacture of artificial landscapes in parks, one of the artist's continuing preoccupations. …

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