Trudy Benson (b.1985 Richmond, VA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA. The artist is represented by Horton Gallery in New York, where she was recently featured in a solo show, a group show, and at Art Brussels.

When a viewer engages with one of Trudy Benson's paintings, it is as if a stream of digital consciousness has purged itself onto the canvas. Every work contains waves of riotous strokes and spray marks emphasizing an influx of information as disjointed abstract thought. Benson explores the world of digital space, which manifests itself behind screens - pulling inspiration from her own relationships to computers, cell phones, and early videogames. With under paintings of grids and gradients, the artist utilizes symbols synonymous with art history and modern technology. This dichotomy in Benson's work continues as she readily engages with classical painting tropes, while maintaining a mechanical dialogue. This complex weaving of contemporary western influence through archetypal painting techniques, within Benson's intuitive mark making, provides no easy way to enter one of her massive canvases. There is a deliberate velocity and anxiety that is concentrated in the work. The layers of paint have visually appropriated the incessant humming which is inherent to all contemporary society - it is almost as if behind each set of stretcher bars one would find an electrical plug feeding power directly into the work.

Benson's translation of technology and screens into art was seeded at a young age. Her "first abstract paintings were made as a child on an ancient black and white Mac with Microsoft Paint's built-in tools: the pencil, the paintbrush, spray can, the fill bucket, and the gradient." This primary exposure to digital art making, undoubtedly informed the artist as she transitioned into a material based practice. She regularly squeezes paint right out of the tube onto the canvas, and uses spray paint without reservations. Her direct art practice continues with the use of an eight-inch paint roller. Just as digital information is never lost, even after deletion, the large swatches of fresh paint from the roller uniquely preserves all previous marks in Benson's paintings - while concurrently, creating new space for her to explore, and mediate in. It is apparent, that the artist's practice is additive, and not subtractive. She is not daunted with the notion of layers or textures - each smudge, smear, blot, dot, stroke, etc, brings life to Benson's paintings. Each canvas, and its immense physicality, commands a room - autonomously presenting a slurry of contemplation which simultaneously entices and overwhelms a viewer.

Notable Exhibitions:

Two-person Presentation (with Jessica Labatte), Art Expo, Chicago, IL (with Zieher Smith & Horton)
Abstract America Today, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
XSTRACTION, The Hole, New York, NY
Paradox Maintenance Technicians, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation New Acquisitions, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ
Idealizing the Imaginary: Illusion and Invention in Contemporary Painting, Oakland University Art Gallery, Rochester, MI

Press Mentions:

"Trudy Benson has a quiet and polite personality with a disinterest in the provincial celebrity the art world affords. Her paintings, however, are not shy, refreshingly they do all the talking. Her bold canvases are shaped by the logic of digital imaging, the structures and aesthetics of Photoshop options like the spray, fill, select and erase tools, she approaches a blank canvas with her digitally-mitigated imagination. Using brushes, spray, or often paint straight-out-of-the-tube, Trudy creates compositions with scale and scope that keep painting relevant in the digital era. Saving oil painting from JPEG destruction? Extremely badass." - Kathy Grayson, i-D Magazine, September 2014.

"My dad’s been a computer programmer since the 70s, and I remember he used to take me to Take Your Daughter to Work Day, so I always used to draw on his computer and that’s the only thing I did. I wasn’t drawing anything, I was just kind of playing with the tools...After I started making these pieces, they felt kind of familiar to me. I feel like I approached things in the same way as I did then…there’s a sense of freedom, I guess, when you’re drawing on a computer, or just doodling on a piece of paper, or on your phone or something, that I respond to. That’s what I really enjoyed about making these." - Trudy Benson interviewed by Maria Brito, Ann Street Studio, December 2013.

"Trudy Benson’s work is similarly bilingual, speaking to both the art of the past and the digital forms of the present, while asking us to consider the relation between the two. At first glance, her Selection, Delete, 2013, has the colorful exuberance of early-twentieth-century abstraction, but anyone who used a PC in the 1990s will identify the work’s heterogeneous materials (including spray paint and acrylic paint) as a catalogue of the range of effects one could layer within a single frame in MS Paint." - Tina Rivers, Artforum.com, November 11, 2013.

"A generation of artists who grew up using a mouse as comfortably as a paintbrush is now coming of age and bringing the giddiness of those formative computer art experiments to good old oil on canvas. This is exciting news, to judge from Trudy Benson’s solo show at Horton...Many of her large, squarish canvases — the proportions bring to mind early Mac monitors — mimic the squiggly, uncontrollable lines and seemingly miraculous instant color-fills of 1980s graphics programs like MacPaint..." - Karen Rosenberg, The New York Times, May 10, 2013.

"…Trudy Benson has been garnering a lot of attention, and it’s easy to see why. Her raucously impastoed paintings, as luscious as they are jarring, are abstraction as sheer ebullience — ambrosia for anyone open to the innate pleasures of color, texture, line and shape…," - Thomas Micchelli, Hyperallergic, May 4, 2013.

"Abstraction and computer graphics come together in "Paint," Trudy Benson's exhibition named after the Windows program that entertained many children of the '80s for hours on end. The screenlike flatness of Benson's canvases-featuring overlapping geometric shapes and striped patterns-is tempered by her thickly applied swaths of paint. Instead of "scribbling" with a mouse back and forth across a screen, Benson carefully empties what looks like an entire tube of paint in long, thick strands." - ___, Art in America, May 2, 2013.

"Benson works with a variety of textures—thin, even tones of spray paint; thick oil and acrylic paint designed to show brush work; and thick gestural squiggles—and combines them with mastery. The paintings often have a collaged, textile feel; many are people-sized, which adds an element of grandeur and awe." - Paddy Johnson and Austin McAllister, L Magazine, March 13, 2013.

"This young Pratt-educated painter is moving away from her previous cartoonishly figurative efforts and toward a maximalist abstraction. The effect is a bit like a 1980's geometry textbook spazzing out and exploding on the wall. Benson works within a deliciously caffeinated language of gestures and shapes-the smear, the dripping line, rainbows, grids, circles-to create compositions that pair smooth, glossy sections with paint applied so thickly it resembles Play-Doh."- Scott Indrisek, Modern Painters, December 2012.

"American artist Trudy Benson's large-scale, invigorating abstractions revel in the possibilities of paint, from hard-edged geometries to fastidious line work, drips, smears and luscious gradient blends…There's certainly a trace of this digital apprenticeship in current appearance of her highly-layered, bustling canvases, although Benson's fondness for textural play - crusted painting and almost improbably chunky impasto - is a far cry from the flatness of on- screen imagery."- ___, Modern Edition, June 2012.

"Trudy Benson's work plays an equal role in the exhibit with large and commanding non-objective abstractions. The young American painter (born in 1985) creates a strong three-dimensional presence with layers of think oil paint. Hung on a grid-like frame, elements up front, in the middle, and in the rear of Pale Blue Dot create an illusion of depth at a distance. Tooled massive paint strokes push the use of texture to the limit." - Ron Scott, artHopper.org, January 18, 2012.

"Adding to the growing list of women currently re-imagining Abstract Expressionist painting, Trudy Benson makes works that do not skimp on exuberant color and gesture. Nor do they lack fearlessness with regard to paint application." - Joseph Wolin, ARTnews, January 2012.

"For those of us who live now even partially immersed in the digital spaces of video games, websites, and smart phones, the properties of these artificial worlds have become so familiar to us that Benson's work gratifyingly affirms the seeming tangibility of their existence. At the same time, however, "Acutal/Virtual" exposes the falsemess of cirtual worlds by continually moving from depth to flatness and deconstruction lives the most vital spirit of Benson's work - the ability to jam and break binaries with distinctly human pleasure."- Daniel Levis Keltner, Precipitate: Journal of the New Environmental Imagination, December 2011.

"Perhaps it is the stop-and-go collage aspect of their composition that makes them feel as if our eyes can fully encompass then and our hands carry them as if they were sheets of paper; or perhaps it is the predominance of line in their formation, making them look almost like drawings. Whatever Benson does to inform her vast paintings with intimacy, it results in one of the most exhilaratingly troubling sensations available from painting in a long time. It's not the damned things are too big; they're not, as they need to be these dimensions to impart all their festive excitement and dizzying energy. It's that they make us feel as if we're too small. " - Peter Frank, The Huffington Post, November 4, 2011.

"At the heart of this work are her (Benson's) lack of inhibitions, her visible strength and endurance, and her ability to resist any basis of a narrative in favor of a push to a sort of spasmodically over-stimulated core of expression that fluctuates between dizzying and mesmerizing. One even imagines there are fleeting moments of meditation in the paint application process when the artist makes such repetitive actions in the variously colored rainbow-like elements". - Dominick Lombardi, Culture Catch, October 28, 2011.

"Looking at [Trudy Benson's] "Ret Giant", for example, is like launching into orbit. The painting is overwhelming: a fat red center and a seres of black rings, some shading into purple. It's hard to know where to focus; there are so many rings and curves, nearly echoing each other, drawing your eye in constant new directions. Then, a green line as raw as space itself cuts across the front of the sphere. In the end, you feel you've circled a new planet." - Kate Prengel, City Arts, October 25, 2011.

"With titles such as Radiation Spill, Red Dward, and New Ninth Planet, it's no surprise that Benson's abstractions are large (six to seven feet on a side) and imbued with a strike luminescence that's equal parts laboratory fluorescents and petrochemical haze. Bodly brushed and colorful, they might at first read as decorative, but this isn't lobby art - unless it's destined for one of those orbiting multinationals in William Gibson's Neuromancer." - R.C. Baker, Village Voice, September 2011.

"Benson's paintings are about the interplay of textures and surfaces; they are about the interaction of material and materical. They are both dynamic and static: a drip runs into and is impeded by a chunk, a dry pigment is brushed quickly across a dried, dunoked snear; paint has never seemed so rotund as it does here, has never buckled thus. Benson insists that a painting is simply the meeting of undulating, modifiable, viscous mucilage, with more of the mucilage. Her "strokes" are oozes of strawberry tooth-paste or purple grout, the crateredsurface of the moon, the afterimage of neon light dispersing into sky; they speak to the physical reality of oil in water more than they engage in the precious dialogue between the hairs of a paintbrush and a gessoed canvas." - Emily Nathan, ArtSlant, May 16, 2010.

"The economy's dead, our environment is on the verge of collapse, and responsible citizens everywhere are struggling to conserve in order to survive. Which is exactly why Trudy Benson's luridly maximalist new show, "Space Jam," is such a visceral, flippant punch in to the gut. Large canvases explode a faux-naif wonderland - part Phillip Guston, part sloppy 'zine comic - using enough paint to cover a very large house. Reproductions of these images don't do justice to the sheer amount of pigment that Benson has loaded on here: slathered is really the only appropriate verb." - Scott Indrisek, Modern Painters, May 13, 2010.

Notable Collections:

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peeksill, NY
Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, Jersey City, NJ
Saatchi Gallery, London, UK

Photo: Courtesy of the artist


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