Hay Hill Gallery is proud to present a series of new works by the British artist Zoe Benbow.
Her paintings aim to communicate a sense of awe and enjoyment in landscape and reference the European genre as a means of questioning our cultural construct of wilderness and our relationship to the natural world. The images are developed from drawings made ‘in the field’ yet by an intense engagement with the processes of painting and studio practice, the resulting canvases become as much a meditation on a geology of association and memory as of actual place.
Benbow’s experience of walking and drawing in landscape is that everything – light, wind, vegetation and stones – are shifting, sliding, moving with every moment. Contrary to the quest for achieving long distance or summit she enjoys meandering, searching, looking and often bizarrely napping and dreaming in protected hollows. Exploring a micro–macro dynamic, she is interested in the experience of landscape as intimate and surrounding as opposed to distancing and remote.
Here, no traditional perspective is employed and the image – tightly balanced at a point of maximum tension – remains in continuous flux. When looking at the paintings things aren’t always as they first appear – that which we perceive as foreground can rotate to background and vice-versa. In the shifting nature of the image our spatial position as observer is subverted, implying the possibility of time and narrative as we navigate the canvas. The paintings throw the viewer headlong into the landscape, whilst challenging any pre-conceived sense of separateness from the environment.
These paintings are sophisticated and multi layered images intended to be read and enjoyed over a long period of time.
Zoe Benbow was born in 1963. She lives and works in London. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1989 she has chosen to centre her career in studio practice. She has undertaken five international residencies and eighteen solo shows alongside numerous group exhibitions. Work is represented in many corporate and public collections including Queen Mary University of London, The British Council and Manchester City Art Gallery. In 2013 I collaborated with the poets Deryn Rees Jones and Sarah Corbett in the touring exhibition ‘Where we begin to Look- Landscape and Poetry’ which was presented at The Poetry Society London, The Glass Tank at Oxford Brookes University and other venues.