Monstors: Benjamin Heiken
Hunter / Whitfield is pleased to present Monsters, an exhibition of paintings and mono-prints by Benjamin Heiken. For Monsters, Benjamin Heiken flips, warps, enlarges and contorts bodies and faces, exploring the paradox central to the human condition: mind vs. body.
In a series of mono–prints displayed in vitrines, Heiken employs two leit-motifs that run throughout his practice: a large, ursine monster, derived originally from a self-portrait in which the artist painted his own head upside down; and ‘Bar-of-Soap-Head Charlie’, a puerile-faced character whose desire for absolution causes him to disintegrate and wash away as he walks through the rain. Heiken conceives of both characters as tangential or disassociated self-portraits that emerge from his meditations on the antagonism between the body and mind; they become surrogates for the self, at once personal and universal in their investigation of creative failure.
Across a series of paintings ranging from the miniature to the gargantuan, Heiken creates grotesque images in which the mouth and anus are conflated – carnal and artistic creativity become the overseer of all, usurping the logical dominance of the brain. An exploded head in Self calls to mind early attempts at plastic surgery, while the freakish form in Solipsist has its head literally buried in the sand is redolent of shame and the guilt that, for Heiken, must accompany any creative act.
Benjamin Heiken (b. 1977, Quilcene, Washington, USA) has a BFA in painting from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon (2010) and an MFA in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2014). In 2013, Heiken was the recipient of Chelsea Arts Club Trust Prize and his work has been nominated for international awards including the Red Mansion Art Prize in Beijing, China, and the Saatchi Art New Sensations Award. He lives and works in Idaho, USA.