{ }



Color Surfing with Benedict Dos Remedios

“I always try to find a balance between abstract pieces and more figurative work,” says Benedict Dos Remedios. “I love the cerebral feeling of doing abstract paintings and constructions, but we are part of such an image based culture that I think the figurative is really important as well, I always go back and forth between the two.”

The Australian-born artist grew up in Sydney, becoming interested in art at a young age. “It always stood out in my mind when my parents’ friends who were artists came over, and they would draw things or make things for us—I was always really intrigued by it.” Ben found that he had a natural affinity for drawing, and was encouraged by his family to pursue art, eventually attending Australia’s National Art School. “It was a very traditional program—which was great because you really learned all of the history and the basic techniques, but when I moved to New York I pretty much had to teach myself about contemporary art because we didn’t go past Picasso.”

Ben has developed a distinct style that combines his fine art background with a modern approach. One of the first things you notice about his work is the brilliant use of color—a combination of fuchsia, purple, cerulean, and every shade of blue and green that you can find in the ocean. It’s a palette that has been inspired by a variety of experiences, from living in Spain (“It’s such a bright, beautiful place—they really live through color"), to coming of age at a time when street culture became widespread. “I think so much of our generation is influenced by street art and graffiti, they always use such bright colors to stand out.”

Another defining factor of Ben’s work is the subject matter. “I’ve always dealt with nature as a subject. Being Australian we’re surrounded by it, so it’s hard not to take it as an influence.” The pieces he is currently creating incorporate another Australian influence—surfing. “I was really surprised to find that there is a surf culture building up here in New York, especially in the art world. I felt like it was something I could approach from a fine art perspective, but it give it a contemporary feel.”

The series of paintings include enlarged photocopies of images of massive waves, coupled with more abstract canvases that are painted with watercolors and spray paint and layered with surf wax. “I felt like the waves really added context to the other work, and the wax is a whole new process for me. I wanted something that would build up the surface and be quite tactile—I wanted to add dimension.” The images also provide another link to modern culture, as many of them are pulled from the Internet. “I like the idea that certain images come up on Google first, meaning that a lot of people have seen them. And that you can also find images on the Internet that are more rare.”

Ben recently traveled to Nicaragua with a non-profit organization, Finca Santa Marta, and helped local children create their own versions of his art. The organization works with families, teaching them to farm and helping them to live sustainably, but also exposing them to art and culture. “We put up a huge wave on the wall and mixed the acrylic with water and gave them spray bottles to add the color with—they’d never seen anything like it. The wave was perfect because they have such a connection to the beach.”

Another extension of Ben’s work are zines—often inspired by elements of his fine art. “When you’re experimenting and playing around, sometimes some subjects don’t quite tie-in to the work you’re creating, but they’re still part of the process.” As was the case with one of his latest zines, COVER-UP. “For a while I wanted to get back into figurative painting, which isn’t always easy to do, and I was really interested in veiled women and everything happening in Middle Eastern culture.” The zine pulls together images from magazines and the Internet, which Ben has altered with blue veils, leaving only the eyes peering out. It’s both an extension of his larger scale work, and an additional commentary that is accessible and easily shared.

At a time when the concept and definition of art are constantly in flux, Ben’s approach to his work is refreshingly simple: “I think art should make people connect—that’s what it’s all about.”

Related Stories

New Stories

Load More


Like Us On Facebook