Critics’ Picks

Benjamin Senior, Northen Arcade, 2015, oil on linen, 47 1/4 x 59".

Benjamin Senior, Northen Arcade, 2015, oil on linen, 47 1/4 x 59".


Benjamin Senior

Monica De Cardenas | Milan
Via Francesco Viganò 4
December 3, 2015–February 27, 2016

In “Parade,” English artist Benjamin Senior’s second solo show at this gallery, seventeen new paintings on canvas and panel are distributed throughout the entire space and, for the first time in this artist’s work, feature dynamic and multiethnic scenes, urban and suburban in their feel. From depictions of subjects in gymnastic poses, Senior moves on to portray refined and vivid urban architectures, in which pedestrians can be seen engaged in ordinary acts such as reading or taking walks. The artist has always hewn to classical pictorial models, and he connects drawing to painting using chiaroscuro to define, in subtle shades, the volumes of figures arrested in time.

Yet the artist dispenses with traditional approaches to delve into the compositional rules of painters such as Georges Seurat or Jean Hélion, and in works such as The Hound or Cat and Dog (both 2015), Senior applies a deep perspective from below, in homage to Andrea Mantegna. The faces of the figures in his tableaux vivants on canvas are often turned away or hidden by hair, thereby becoming structural layers perfectly linked to the background, while the texture of clothing becomes incorporated into the paintings’ overall visuals. The practice of the preparatory sketch (one of which is on view) becomes even more essential for the realization of four nudes, created from a live model. Here the skin tones and the shapes of the bodies activate a decorative divertissement with the objects that surround them, allowing numerous details and interactions to slowly emerge.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.