Benjamin Hannavy Cousen West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
I completed a PhD at Leeds University in 2012, and have written extensively on art, visual culture, history and memory. Since 2013 I have worked as a full time visual artist and I am represented by Merville Galleries (www.mervillegalleries.com), with whom I had my first London solo show ("Recent Paintings") in the Mall Gallery in 2017.
My work to date in a series of highly sculptural paintings has been about books, both as materialities and the specific experience of reading. The work uncovers an unconscious of each text and explores the interrelation between writing, reading and visual art. I wanted these works to reflect the way we read. Reading is what formed me, and so in that sense the works are autobiographical. The paintings translate texts by referencing colours, and colour associated words. The book is thereby metamorphosed into an object.
The process of making my paintings is like mapping a text. I want to layer the paint, but not in a way you use a brush to apply layers of colour. I needed to find a way of working that would retain the integrity of each layer. The syringe is a way of doing that, by using a syringe, I can create a sense of the archaeology of a book and almost the archaeology of reading, which is to forget, bury, remember and uncover all at the same time’. In some of the works, which are particularly cartographic the horizontal edge of the canvas becomes a form of grid through marking the number of pages in the book along the horizontal edge, and the number of lines on each page down the vertical edge; each time a particular colour (or colour associated word such as snow or blood) appears in the text it is meticulously plotted on the canvas.