About Christopher Benson
With a remarkable sensitivity to color and painted surface Christopher Benson creates a unique form of contemporary representational painting. Although the representational elements of his paintings can beg immediate narrative interpretation, the arresting nature of Benson’s compositions conveys a more deeply felt psychological responsiveness to structure, color and balance through the matrix of an imagined landscape-based imagery. His recent work, while not overtly narrative, is concerned with the most pressing environmental issues of our day...
“. . . For most of my career I have made realist paintings of recognizable subjects — figurative interiors, landscapes and architectural street scenes — that were always intentionally a-political. But in 2016, during the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protests against the Dakota Access oil Pipeline, I painted a large imagined landscape of the protest site with a huge rearing black cloud above it.
Soon after that, In 2018, I began a new series of imaginary and semi-abstracted landscapes, seen through frames or oculuses of black or other dramatically-colored geometric openings. These unpopulated, dream-like images only occasionally show vestiges of human habitation. None of the pictures tells a specific story, though they do occasionally touch on mythological subjects from the distant past which pose a counterpoint to our contemporary industrial reality.
As a whole, the work imagines a future after human industry and extraction have depleted the planet’s ecosystems, and we have gone. They are pictures about the end of our human world, and the black-painted accents loosely reference the fossil fuels that are driving our present environmental crisis.
These are not meant to be horrific or overtly politicized paintings. I am actually interested in imagining the beauty and peacefulness of such a world, even while acknowledging the scale of the loss that will inevitably bring it about.”
Grants and Fellowships
2001-2002—The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Painting Fellowship
2016-2017—The Pollock Krasner Foundation, Painting Fellowship
MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), New York, NY
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND
The Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI
Baker University, Holt Russell Gallery, Baldwin City, KS
Stanford University Libraries, Special Collections, Stanford, CA
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, RI
The Rhode Island School of Design Special Collections Library, Providence, RI
Duke University School of Law (Portrait of Dean David Levi)
Stanford University School of Law (Portrait of Dean John Ely)
Stanford University School of Aeronautics and Aviation, (Portrait of Dean Nicholas Hoff)
1975-1979—The Woodstock Country School, South Woodstock, Vermont (Studied painting with Peter Devine)
2004-2005—RISD, BFA Painting
Christopher Benson Press
The Providence Journal – 2017:
Whats Up Newp – 2017:
The Huffington Post – 2014:
New American Paintings – 2014:
THE Magazine, Critical Reflections (P.63) – 2014:
THE Magazine, Critical Reflections (P.54) – 2013: Art News, summer issue, regional reviews – 2012:
Pasatiempo Magazine of the Santa Fe New Mexican, Santa Fe, NM – 2012:
The Printed Picture, MoMA, New York, NY– 2008:
Art New England, regional reviews– 2004:
The Albuquerque Journal North– 1992: