Not Just Another Pretty Face 2019

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Ben Murray

Not Just Another Pretty Face 2019

Program Overview


Ben Murray

“Yet Muybridge, in some of his earliest landscape work, seems positively to seek, of all things, waterfalls; long exposures of which produce images of a strange, ghostly substance that is in fact the tesseract of water: what is to be seen is not the water itself, but the virtual volume it occupies during the whole time-interval of the exposure.”

-Hollis Frampton, “Eadweard Muybridge: Fragments of a Tesseract.” 1972

I work within the historical conventions of observational painting, while embracing the impermanence of subjects. In denial about having power to sustain moments I find significan, I stubbornly grab at gestures that rapidly fade away, and my work is the result of this futile endeavor. I use the artistic process to solidify the existence of my connection with people, memories, and moments by trying to make this into corporeal forms and images. As the subject is constantly shifting and fleeting, the work reveals layers of attempts to depict an image. Light shifts, edges dissolve, movements change speed. Painting offers me the chance to make something isolated, intimate, concentrated and yet a little out of control.

Through mark-making, my presence becomes evident in the surface of the paintings I create, and I’m able to record labor into that surface in intervals. The observations I make outside of the studio changes what I reflect inside it. Outside, I move forward, age, interact and am concerned with my place in society. Inside the studio, I’m isolated. I look, react and reflect on wide spans of time. The resultant practice embodies the temporal conditions of a historical experience. Painting allows these moments to present themselves all at once, and unravel layers over time.

Since 2011, I have been developing a body of work that poses as domestic symbols of experience from my hometown. In the process of making each piece, I restrain from using visual source materials other than memory for instruction. With my time living in Indiana informing the work, I propose to insert myself as an active member in the dialogue of the town’s timeline informed by my own personal history.

In 2016, I began a project focused on the “life review”, which is a phenomenon widely reported as occurring during near-death experiences, in which a person rapidly sees much or the totality of their life history in chronological sequence and in extreme detail. I continued my investigation into the aesthetics of memory with new paintings that explore this mortal notion using a cinematic lens, as if life itself were a screenplay to be viewed before the final frame. Void of characters or dialogue, these compositions are constructed in a durational framework, simultaneously conveying the multiple frames of lived experience in reverse.

Currently, I am developing a new body of “portraits” of films that are being played while I paint them in the studio.





$1,500 - $7,500

For more information or to commission a unique work of art through Not Just Another Pretty Face, contact Maria Nelson at or 773.324.5520 x1014.