The title of this exhibition refers to a weekend family trip we took to Lake Gosau, Austria, in Autumn of last year. The north end of the lake offers a spectacular view of the highest peak of the Dachstein Mountains, made more picturesque by its water-reflected image. The trip was, for me, also reflective. I thought often of my earliest mountain paintings and how my work has evolved the past twenty years. We hiked and explored the forest paths as our 8-year-old son collected twigs, leaves, and pinecones. We found ancient fossils in a small and chilly waterfall. This trip was one of new discoveries and offered a brief moment of relief from city life and pandemic lockdowns. Over the next months, back in the studio, I painted views of the place we had visited and finished paintings that had previously been difficult to resolve. Lake Gosau had provided me with a fresh perspective on the natural world, sparked new ideas, and left me with the feeling that there are still many paths to be explored.
— Benjamin Butler, Vienna, 2022
This February, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery will present a new solo show of Benjamin Butler’s paintings, his fifth with the gallery. In his work, Butler has used motifs of trees, forests, and landscapes as a colloquial structure to explore abstract elements in painting including color, composition, brushwork and surface. Through a repetition and recycling of his subject matter, Butler’s paintings walk a line between conceptual restraint and pictorial beauty, abstraction and representation.
This show, titled “Lake Gosau” includes abstract compositions shimmering with grids of small horizontal brushstrokes that occupy the space around their seemingly rooted counterparts. Other works present a representation of landscapes where fields of color create a different spatial sense defining outdoor vistas, both generic and specific (presumably representing the titular lake). Together these works, along with images of pinecones and flowers, exemplify Butler’s long-time exploration of painting within the parameters of a limited subject matter, from his earliest mountain landscapes to primarily abstract descriptions of the tree and forests.
Benjamin Butler (American, b.1975) lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He has exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. He is jointly represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York and Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo. Butler’s exhibitions have been reviewed in many publications such as The New York Times, Artforum, and Art in America.