Aviv Benn | And the Sky Cast an Eye On This Marvellous Meat: Curated by Tamara Admoni
In her new body of work, artist Aviv Benn creates a dreamlike world of grotesque creatures and outlandish nature. This solo exhibition invites viewers to enter this mysterious realm, as each painting functions as a window, revealing another facet of Benn’s universe.
Benn’s paintings are illusory and delusive, with their imagery echoing a familiar yet alienating feeling. These are the markings of nature, not nature itself – a map of an almost recognisable land that remains foreign and elusive. The bright and colourful brushstrokes appear joyful at first glance, but upon more careful inspection, their resonance is alarming and unnatural. They lure the viewer like carnivorous plants and the flora camouflages figures to the point that they almost become one, however, this is not a harmonious union. Robust and enigmatic nature is taking over the pictorial space, and the boundaries of the canvas can barely contain it.
Much like in sci-fi and fantasy storytelling, the allegorical narrative in Benn’s work features surreal figures and fictive scenarios, but it is also deeply rooted in our current times. In the work, as in our dreams, we can recognise the universal symbols and archetypal imagery appearing before us, but their juxtapositions and interpretations are obscure and indeterminate, inviting viewers to project their own meaning onto the work.
The exhibition’s title, ‘And the Sky Cast an Eye on This Marvellous Meat’, is a line borrowed from poet Charles Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil collection. The poem describes the perplexity of nature, as well as the human body and life; as they are simultaneously magical and ordinary, beautiful and grotesque, astonishing and miserable.
The exhibition suggests a metaphorical journey into nature as a sojourn into our psyche. This exploration, like the nature depicted in the paintings, is surreal, bizarre, and even ominous at times. The botanical imagery is flesh-like and meaty: a reflection of our human form, our own mortal nature. These ‘fleshy-plants’ echo the fraught relationship between humankind and nature. What seems like a utopia, a magical and even humorous environment, is also a memento of mortality, everything that blooms under the sky will eventually wither; but until then, we have some time under the sun.