3/20, 9pm-1am // Free
Feast your eyes on some truly mesmerizing paintings at Sara Benson‘s first solo exhibition, TONIGHT. Showcasing her recent body of work, these paintings are characterized by thick, luscious layers of vibrant oil paint. Evoking strong optical movement, these works utilize warped and repeated geometric patterns alongside classic iconography. This is one feast that carnivores and veg-heads alike can agree upon. Hosted by one of our favorite Cambridge spots, Lily Pad — get there early to snag a beer and enjoy live music by Manor.
In anticipation, we caught up with Sara and prodded her for answers — here’s what she had to say…
Can you start by talking to us a little bit about the inspiration behind your most recent body of work?
Lately, I’ve been painting what I like. When I come across something visually interesting in my life, I normally want to glorify or iconify it in an oil painting. I come across many patterns, and colors, and objects that I am attracted to everyday, but every once and awhile I will come across something that must be painted.
There is of course analytical reasons behind why I paint certain things – such as the Hawaiian and American Flag, their meaning/substance is already inherent in them. It kind of makes it easier to paint something that already has a purpose or meaning behind it. It makes it so the job is half way done — not only for my critical thinking but also for the viewer.
What is your typical process when making one of these paintings?
The process begins with the image I’ve decided to paint on canvas. How the piece will look is imagined in my head first or digitally on a computer and then I execute it. It’s a pretty simple conception. A few months ago I thought — I want to paint my cat Bodhi, and so I did. I decided to name my current show “Skirt Steak” while I was home in Hawaii eating steak with some friends. Later, a painting of a steak was made. I try to produce work in a chain reaction and that is when it feels like I’m making the best work. I like using bright colors and gradients for some reason — I just can’t seem to break myself away from psychedelic atmospheres.
Your new work — and even your older works — evoke the work of Jasper Johns. Can you talk to us a bit about your artistic influences?
I have always been attracted to Jasper Johns and Sol Lewitt. I borrow from Johns mentality on liking things for what they are and how they look. It is probably where my sympathy for the iconic flag came from. One of my most influential moments to date was seeing Sol Lewitt’s retrospective at MASS MoCA two years ago. I plan on going back again soon, I don’t think any exhibition has affected me as much as his. I love a lot of art and artists and to an extent my work is self-referential because of it. It’s sometimes hard for me to pinpoint which artist I like — oftentimes I don’t even remember their names! I recently bought a Georgia O’Keefe book and a Matisse book. And saw Richard Serra at the Gagosian last month. But I’m an introvert and don’t get out as much as I should.
And finally — just for fun — what kind of music have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to Shilpa Ray lately and put the Chuck Berry station on Pandora.
Sara is a graduate of Montserrat College of Art and a founding member of Artist Collective, devoted to promoting experimental and emerging art. They foster a healthy environment for critique, inspiration, and work to generate an open dialog between artists and their supporting communities.
Lily Pad, Inman Square
1353 Cambridge Street