‘Ambiguity of Spaces Between’ Exhibition 2019

We are all caught somewhere in between as we continue to 'become' and develop through experiences

As Deleuze and Guattari explain, the process of 'becoming' is not one of imitation or analogy, it is generative of a new way of being that is a function of influences rather than resemblances. The process is one of removing the element from its original functions and bringing about new ones.

Karen Benton works across the field of expanded painting in which she paints both the canvas and non-traditional materials, manipulating these painted surfaces to create a body of work that questions the stability of the material world and our place within it. Her material manipulations allude to movement and change, blurred boundaries and distorted limits as she imagines the tension that often exists beneath the veneer of our habitual lives.

The juxtapositions of material that Benton creates give attention to concepts that do not necessarily have a defined physical shape in the world such as the notion of the transitional space as an oscillation between the familiar and the unknown.

Her work considers the tension that exists within these transitional spaces often recounting perfection/imperfection, fragment/whole and momentum/confinement.

Although the works are not loaded with a personal narrative, the choice of material and its manipulation can be read as metaphorically corporeal. While their references might not be made immediately explicit to the viewer there is something performative in the way the materials are often layered, draped, folded and collapsed. There is a sense of the performative in their restlessness suggesting that permanence is overrated.

Benton’s practice often draws from other fields in which she has either worked or has an interest in, including science and design. Her concepts of layering and folding have been inspired by both geology and fashion.

Improvisation and spontaneity play a significant role in Benton’s process. While she maintains a clear direction in her practice, Benton is not interested in a pre-defined, measured outcome of individual works. The magic lies in the surprise of how materials interrelate – reinforcing her interest in the tension that often exists between the familiar and the unknown.  Benton considers that there would be no impetus to make her work if she knew the outcome as then it would be just an act of execution and production.

Benton aims to have a sense of movement and imperfection in her work. Her attitude to making art reflects the way she sees life – one of movement, change and imperfection – where we all exist somewhere in an in-between place whether emotionally or physically. 

While Benton’s work is always evolving there is a lineage both of concepts and aesthetics. Line and composition have always been important to her painting practice and she sees moving beyond the flat painted surface work into sculpted paintings and installation as a natural extension into three-dimensional spaces.

Benton is interested in developing works that act as catalysts for conversation and contemplation triggering a transition of emotion and thought in the viewer.