Benjamin Butler >< Tree Alone >< May – June 2004


Benjamin Butler                                  

“Tree Alone”
11 May –  26 June 2004

Galerie Lisa Ruyter presents Benjamin Butler „Tree Alone“ from 11 May to 26 June 2004. This will be the first solo exhibition in Europe of this young American artist. The show consists of modestly scaled oil paintings of trees.

Butler started making landscape paintings when he was asked by his grandmother to make one for her. The result, his first solo exhibition, consisted of about 15 paintings of mountains, each rendered in a distinctly different style. The emotional challenge of pleasing this person, while making an object which functions within the context of contemporary painting, has become the challenge which drives his practice.

Butler’s paintings are familiar, though not just as a depiction of a famous formation such as the Matterhorn. Looked at individually, a painting may seem a naive reference toward a debased lineage of abstraction, or a painfully sincere attachment to nature, but Butler’s affection towards his subject could not be more complex or contemporary.

In some ways his practice is a campaign against the impersonal and distanced nature of the current state of painting, and a comment on the difficulty of finding a place for emotional expression and connection in contemporary art.

His sources and methods are similar to those of a Pop artist, appropriating found images and styles, mixing high and low. A Butler painting may seem to reference what one might find in a hotel room painting, or that creepy painting which will haunt forever from childhood. Butler invites a sophisticated audience to accept the pleasure that others take in visual images that we think are worthless or worse: in deeply bad taste. He helps us remember a pre-formed stage of visual awareness.

Recent solo shows include „Little Mountain“ at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Japan last year and the exhibition „Trees“ at Team Gallery, New York City in January 2004.

He has participated in numerous group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and most recently at Grimm/Rosenfeld in Munich and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg. Benjamin Butler was born 1975 in Kansas and lives and works in New York City.