Jonathan Levine Projects is pleased to present New Drawings by Ben Tolman in what will be the artists debut solo show at the gallery.
New Drawings by Ben Tolman features intricate works depicting multi-tiered dramas of urban and suburban life that examine the quirky truths of the complex strata of society. His densely rendered ink compositions on canvas and paper dissect patterns of human behavior and the effect constructed environments have on those who inhabit them, while also offering a wider view of the extraordinary systems that shape modern day civilization.
Tolman begins each drawing with the rudiments of a spacial concept, be it a modern sky-rise building or back-alley. With an architect’s precision and MC Escher rule-bending perspective, he constructs multi-leveled stages that are often crumbling and graffitied as the backdrop for human interaction. Found within his scenes are slices of life that show off Tolman’s keen sense for situational humor, such as a barbeque party in a shanty town, a gated hunting ground complete with artificial trees or a sky portal linking to another universe. For this new body of work the artist also created abstract environments without human subjects, creating geometric structures serving as a home for uniquely imagined objects and shapes.
Writer Kriston Capps describes: “Sturm und drang takes physical form in Tolman’s drawings. They are violent and tragic. Cities and skyscrapers represent a kind of mortification of the flesh. Tolman draws cities as hierarchical, rising from the filth at their base to gleaming penthouse pinnacles in the sky. The suburbs, by comparison, are soul-crushing in a different way. Nothing happens. Throughout, his works are darkly comic—fine, touching moments rendered in fine ink lines can be found everywhere, when you look closely. In that sense, the drawings are very human.”