Wed 29 Nov 2023 to Fri 22 Dec 2023
Artist: Ben Woolfitt
Opening reception: Thursday 30 November, 6pm-8pm
David Richard Gallery presents Blue Passage, a solo exhibition and debut of new paintings and drawings by artist Ben Woolfitt in his first presentation with the gallery.
Always exploring non-objective abstraction and inspired by Color Field painting, Woolfitt’s process-driven paintings begin and end with surface and color. These newest works start with waves and swaths of gesso that provide the first step in his process. Applying pigment in layers with each mark and gesture in response to the prior additions, the colors and imagery organically evolve filling the canvas and running off the edges in every direction. The variety of media, including acrylic paint, dry pigment, metallic leaf, and graphite and the canvas filling, all over painting approach makes the work dynamic, full of intrigue with the color and imagery extending beyond the canvas edges. Depending upon the range of palettes, from black and white, to blue, black and white, or black and gold, with occasional additions of green or red, each painting having sprays of colors in the grounds or moving toward the surface with clusters of marks evokes astral skies, the cosmos, or nautical vegetation and creatures deep in the sea.
The presentation will also include a selection of new drawings taken from Woolfitt’s daily practice in his New York, East Village studio. Each drawing is a unique creation, not a prelude to nor a study for any particular painting. Aesthetically, very much related to the paintings, each rendering is created using the technique of ‘frottage’ that captures the impressions of screens, wire mesh, or crumpled materials behind the drawing paper and provides the surface texture and imagery after rubbing the surfaces with graphite, dry pigment, and silver leaf. However, while the media may be common between the canvas versus paper supports, the imagery develops on the paper with a vision or intentionality in mind that explores fissures and eruptions, horizon lines, repetition of forms, and large passages of color. Woolfitt’s drawings and numerous drawing books that record decades of his visual explorations were prominently featured in his recent solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto from July 2021 through March 2022.
A new book with an essay by Donald Kuspit will follow the exhibition. Kuspit has written two other books extensively investigating and discussing Woolfitt’s studio practice spanning five decades of his paintings and drawings.