The following text is written by Mirjam de Winter from gallery Phoebus, who represents Simon Benson.
Simon Benson is a draughtsman above all else. In pencil, on A4 and A3 size paper, you find almost everything: from almost invisible organic lines drawn in a searching automatic hand, to harder lines, drawn with the help of a ruler or a template; as well as areas of solid fill or cross-hatched and soft nebulous planes. Since the end of the 80’s nature and architecture have been his main subjects in which he can deploy his drawing skills. In the course of the 90’s, language and text make an appearance, along with the human form, sensory perception and feelings. In 1998, he makes the first self-portraits. In the meantime, new techniques are being used in the works on paper: photography and digital prints. Alongside all this, Benson has been making wall-paintings and three dimensional wall and floor objects made from mdf: he has also realised a number of public space commissions.
In 1997, Simon Benson, made a text-piece, ‘Universal Anatomy’, in the form of a digital and a silk-screen print. It consists of a list of about 300 Italian words. (Italy referring to the beginnings of art in the Renaissance). The scope of this theme becomes clear: from roof to foundation, mountain peak to valley floor, from human head to feet – the body expanded to include perception, feeling and thought – all this subject matter described in one descending movement. At the same time, with a fascination for crossovers, Simon Benson drew a house in the form of a head, or a tree that appeared to be speaking; and he also made an installation entitled ‘An Anthropomorphic Landscape’, with consisted of a series of mdf objects with an block-like architectural appearance, which contained textual references to certain facets of the human form.
Not just in this conceptual framework -that to this day continues to grow and is still a way to get to know Simon Benson’s work- but individual text works also play a role. For example, ‘Solutio’, ‘Heiliger Platz’, Senza Fiato’, ‘Fluchtpunkt’, ‘Seed’, ‘Cielo’ and others confront you with a greater or lesser degree of
ambiguity, of under- or overstatement – and creates a lot of space for association. Words or letters are sometimes, through a clear yet abstract arrangement, made unreadable. For example, the sixteen letters of the name of the gallery ‘ P H O E B U S R O T T E R D A M ‘ are placed in a grid of four by four letters on the facade of the building in which the gallery in housed. Text as starting point and secret language, a labyrinth to wander around in, a place where you can stand still, think and dream.
That Simon Benson is inspired, on various levels, by the traditions of western art and architecture is discernable in his work. Sometimes it is possible to point out variations on existing images, like in the references to Dürer’s drawings or Botticelli’s, or in the assimilation of architectural drawings of Gothic cathedrals or Le Corbusier’s buildings. As far as sources from literature are concerned, Simon Benson made, in 1999, a series of drawings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and lately he has been inspired by James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, especially by the notion of a varyingly, inward and outward looking subjectivity. ‘Thought Through My Eyes’- eyes open and closed. His work is becoming more and more personal. Image and text, increasingly woven together – something like what you see in a present day source of his: television and computer culture.
The ‘ DO YOU STILL HEAR THE BIRDS SINGING” publication is available at www.ftn-books.com