Benjamin Butler’s sixth solo show at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery centers around a body of work that began taking shape shortly after his 2022 exhibition at the gallery’s Ludlow Street space. In that show, Butler had included a single painting of a pinecone, presented alongside paintings of flowers, mountain landscapes, a pine tree, and pixelated forests. It was in this pinecone motif that he discovered a new focus.
Over the next two years, Butler developed twelve paintings, each the same scale, using the image and structure of a pinecone as starting points. His new paintings, based on the geometrically organized, often triangular ‘meta’ patterns inherent to the forms of pinecones, lend themselves to frameworks as varied as minimalism, folk art, Cubism, still life, and kitsch. This repetition of motif, combined with shifting levels of abstraction, allows Butler to create paintings that are both constrained by and liberated from concerns about ‘subject matter’. The rigor of Butler’s studio practice is unveiled through his working process, revealing ideas that visibly progress from one painting to the next.
For most of the past two decades, Benjamin Butler has painted, in varying manifestations, the regularly spaced verticals and diagonals of forests and lyrically curved branches of single trees. Whether reducing landscapes to single color canvases or grouping vertical green monochromes, his works have come to signify natural objects and/or the space around them. Consistency can be found in Butler’s subjects as well as his deadpan handling of painting’s histories. Variety in the work comes by way of his ever-shifting approaches to his recurring subjects and painting processes.
Benjamin Butler was born in Kansas (1975). He received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2000). After more than a decade in New York City, Butler relocated to Vienna, Austria, where he’s lived since 2012. His work has been exhibited internationally, and is represented in institutional collections including the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas and the Glenbow Collection, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York and Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo.