Ben Charles Weiner's respective depictions of these subjects- both in isolation and together in tableaux--pair a motif from classical Western painting with a synthetic beauty product--to address tension between the rapid technological innovation of our time and the persistent fact of our mortality.
Weiner’s paintigns of pearls invoke a range of classical paintings- from the Vanitas still life paintings of William Claesz to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, to Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus. In contrast, Weiner's paintings of blue hair gel as a solitary subject reference monochrome abstractions such as those of Yves Klein and Ellsworth Kelly. These “Gel Monochrome Paintings’ ” uniform color schemes and high definition imagery belie their origins as works of the hand, building upon monochrome painting’s exploration of the tension between mass production and handcraft.
Together, these motifs serve Weiner’s larger project of using painting to explore what it means to be human as we integrate synthetic components and technology into our bodies. Contemporary culture’s obsession with bodily enhancement informs Weiner’s paintings of chemical products from cosmetics to surgical injections. In connecting the opposing styles of abstraction and photorealism, Weiner reflects our alienation from physical experience within a culture that reduces bodily needs into chemical processes.
By photographing paint and luxurious ephemera at close range, then using the resulting image as his subject, Ben Charles Weiner creates works that pose a confusion of object, subject and medium. Weiner's paintings harness the idolatrous fetishistic desire of consumer culture, the fashion industry, and the art world. Thus, his paintings self-critically describe the duality of their own identity as both transcendent creation and commercial item. Likewise, all of the themes and references in the paintings reinforce their status as consumer/art objects. Roland Bathes' application of Freud's concept of "the uncanny" to landscape photography is the pertinent reference.
Weiner (b. 1980, Burlington, VT) received his BA from Wesleyan University (CT). He also studied under Mexican muralist José Lazcarro at Universidad de las Americas (Mexico) and has worked closely with artists Jeff Koons, Kim Sooja and Amy Yoes as an assistant. He has exhibited his work widely across the United States and in Mexico with solo shows in Los Angeles, New York and Puebla, and group exhibitions in Chicago, New York, Miami, New Haven, Ridgefield, Los Angeles and Riverside. His paintings can be found in the Sammlung/Collection (Germany), the Progressive Collection (OH), and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation Collection (CA). The artist lives and works in New York City.