Charles Benjamin and Deborah Bowmann at Deborah Bowmann

Artists: Charles Benjamin, Deborah Bowmann

Exhibition title: The Joy of Painting

Venue: Deborah Bowmann, Brussels, Belgium

Date: April 15 – May 22, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Deborah Bowmann, Brussels

Deborah Bowmann Brussels, their representatives and Charles Benjamin are pleased to present their collaboration and installation, The Joy of Painting.

In 2020 Charles Benjamin introduced a section onto his website called GiftShop. He has used a minimal web design to create what is somewhere in between a souvenir shop, a cabinet of curiosities and a secondhand site. Hosting a diverse selection of trinkets, paintings and clothing from different styles, periods and authors, the random selection of functional or decorative items vary in quality and are available at relatively low prices. One can find a painting of the Mora church signed “Sixten Palm” from 1929 or an “authentic painting in the style of Van Gogh”.

Intrigued, we contacted Benjamin specifically to discover more about the GiftShop series. Questioning how it brings together both found or bought objects, paintings from flea markets and paintings that are made by his own hand. We discussed amateur painting, celebration, colours, ways of making art financially accessible, the use of aliases and anonymity, self-sabotage, tribute and beauty.

As a result of this conversation, we bought five paintings from the GiftShop so that we could present them in a new light. The new works we created for this exhibition sit somewhere in between an appropriation and an enhancement of our five purchases. Both at the service of Benjamin’s paintings, yet equally acting as a certain form of invasion, our paintings sit halfway in between displays units, frames and extensions. We have used the colours we found within the existing paintings, yet reintroduced them by using foreign pictorial techniques, such as marouflage, lacquering and flocking. It is a question of painting in our own way, according to our own vocabulary and know-how.

The joy of painting also presents new site-specific paintings by Charles Benjamin as a different proposition of mise en abyme and as a renewed way of situating the medium of painting within this exhibition. Benjamin has produced large scale works within the gallery space that act as architectural forms, weaving around our collaborative paintings. and which simple pictorial gestures are deposited on the canvas like graffiti on a wall. Through this encirclement of visual appropriation, Charles Benjamin renews the gesture of incorporation, as a form of firm and relentless embrace.