The Semi-Finalist periodically sheds light on shows, projects and writing. This is where that happens.
Benjamin Terrell recently wrote the press release for "Here Comes the Suns," curated by Uwe Henneken. He was also invited to exhibit work in the show, which took place at BARK Berlin Gallery in Berlin, Germany from December 10th, 2021 - January 28th, 2022 (on instagram @bark_berlin_gallery).
Oil stain on panel, 9" x 11"
Here Comes the Suns
Everything starts with a circle, like a pond where something emerges from where countless things have taken off and landed. A pond is nearly always round, like the sun or moon or something hung in the house to reflect us to ourselves. A lake is a mountain inverted, but a pond is canvas and cameo to where everything originated. In my neighborhood, in the country, there are two types of walks to take. One, a straight trail where you reach the end and come back past everything you first saw. The second, a circular path where everything is new until you wind up where you began.
Every painting begins as a circle, corners and edges only became important as we imagined ourselves outside or separate from what we attempted to depict. Transformation may take time, but inspiration often arrives in an instant, as unexpected as a single white bird in the center of a large empty grey pond. Ideas too, can arrive opulent and unpredictable as the path of windblown leaves mid-air, or sometimes appear fragile yet furious like the fluttering of a small bird's wings. The heart is a cart kept to collect the fruit of our artistic orchards, both compass and fragile container like a bird's nest. We too bend back resistant branches to protect and encircle what we wish to let emerge.
The cave where creativity is contained is both a circular safe container and a mysterious liminal space, part paradox and part passageway. Art is an artery and also a wounded cocoon that opens reluctantly to our nameless new thresholds. When we allow what is non-essential to sink to the bottom of our consciousness what remains is more clearly able to reflect potential transformation. Seen again, a single white bird floats now on a circle of deep blue. It would be shortsighted to see the blue as the depth of still waters, instead it is an opportunity to understand that color comes from mirroring a limitless sky.
As you read this, infinite orbits spin above us. The truth is, I am expert of nothing but humbled by everything. Maybe the sun is only a hole in the sky that the light gets through, and maybe the moon is actually the sun in a cashmere coat. But everything I know about transformation is because of birds, the bright sounds of bells and the fervent activity of brushes. In my singularity I long for collectivity, connectivity and the words to describe the contents of this room. Perhaps my hesitation to name the bends of life's roller coaster is that doing so will make me more aware of when this ride is coming to an end. A hundred birds flew from a flooded field and you and I are the few who dare to land on the elk's back.
Benjamin Terrell, 2021 (@benjamin_terrell_painting)
Curated by Uwe Henneken (@uwehenneken)
Oil stain on panel, 9" x 11"
Notes of Persistent Awe writer Benjamin Terrell was recently invited to write the press release for "I Walk Thru Walls," the online show featured on Mepaintsme from March 8 - April 18.
The Death of Benign Authority
by JJ Cromer
2021, mixed media on paper, 11" x 8.5"
"Many men drove Magic, but Magic stayed behind. Many strong men lied, they only passed through Magic and out the other side."
- Leonard Cohen
More important than whether you believe in magic is the acknowledgment that magic exists only where there is belief. If one can't imagine a bridge between the visible and the invisible, then such a chasm can never be crossed. More than just a separate world, magic is a "middle" -- much like a life that is lived between the memorable. Magic's marrow is the poetry of the unspoken, the silence of the unsayable, and the ghost in the gap between translations. Magic isn't the mountain itself but rather the realization that the mountain top forms the bottom of an unfathomable sky.
"We are surrounded by the absurd excess of the universe. By meaningless bulk, vastness without size, power without consequence. The stubborn iteration that is present without being felt."
- Jack Gilbert
The artist is the most qualified interpreter of the incantations of our spirit-selves. The unnamable, untethered essence of what is commonly called "spirit" is easy to catch, hard to hold but also almost impossible to portray in a painting due to the finite's inability to define the infinite. Spirit and humans were once Gods, Goddesses, and great things, but because the ones that came before us believed themselves separate, we are caught in a cycle of always relearning and reinterpreting a planet we thought we would leave. Luckily, as the body fades the spirit flourishes and likewise in painting -- when greatness is articulated something transfers from artist to object that will forever reignite in each new viewing.
Every great painting is a postcard to our future selves, but also a breath and bookmark in the middle of our eternal story that is always unfolding. Magic, too, is a necessary pause and punctuation and, in its reflectivity, it removes any illusions of separation. Endings are necessary only for the written word. "Middles" are places where both sides are realized as one -- points of connectivity contracting and expanding. These perpetual places of passage are hallways to the heart and artistic arteries from which flow everything seemingly hidden and everything genuinely revealed.
- Introduction by Benjamin Terrell