A short travel story
Los Angeles, USA
7 Apr – 21 May 2023
In the continuation of a series developed during the 2020 global pandemic, and created during a reflective period inspired by the search for beauty, the new works presented at OTI LA exude an elegant simplicity centred upon the immediacy of objects and sensations—it is a sublimation of the everyday actions of daily life. The paintings call forth similarities to pioneering contemporary artists such as Tom Wesselman, David Hockney, Jonas Wood, and Andre Breton, artists with whom Ben Arpea sees as artistic mentors and influences. The landscapes within his paintings speak to everyone, while distancing themselves from the subject matter in a curious state of engagement and alienation. Between the real and the unreal, the artist creates perfect images that are frozen within their compositions, a subtle analysis of stillness and movement that alludes to pop art aesthetics and surrealism.
Ben Arpéa always draws his inspiration from suspended moments, gleaned from his travels. The Mediterranean, through its culture and aesthetics, is omnipresent, and becomes a reference element in a fundamental research around color and matter. Central in Ben Arpéa's painting, colors lend themselves from the palette of the sun-burned earth, and is thus fully in line with the aesthetics of contemporary history. Vivid flat tints, finely textured, offer a dreamy, ideal, dream-like vision, inviting viewers to reflect on their relationship with the environment, notably through the prism of social networks. Through this dimension of his work, Ben Arpéa is fully engaged with a new generation of peers from the fields of art, design and fashion, celebrating colors and materials in a simple and immediate relationship with the times.
Ben Arpéa creates and paints in a singular atmosphere where the manual and sensory approach is essential. He chooses the fabric – in this case, linen canvas, which allows for a better distribution of the material and replaces the jute canvas of older works – and stretches the canvas onto the frame himself. Starting with sketches, he works on the material and the color, mixes the paint with mineral elements, sand, pebbles, then deploys his pictorial language on a large scale, the minimalism of the motifs confronting the large format of the canvas.
The works presented in the exhibition testify to an evolution in the artist's practice, born of an in- depth study of ideology and matter. Natural motifs are superimposed that reference architecture and the Mediterranean interiors such as arches, windows, tables, tiles, everyday environments. The paintings are an invitation to escape and welcome viewers to travel far away.
Distancing himself from any analytical approach, Ben Arpéa creates simple forms, to invite everyone to a dreamlike and personal journey. He welcomes viewers to enter into synaesthesia with his paintings, each one being invited to project their memories onto compositions that are intimate and familiar dialogues within their own psyche.