April 13 - May 26, 2018
Curated by Michael-Birch Pierce
The Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond presents Wish You Were Here, a solo exhibition by Savannah, GA-based painter Ben Tollefson. The artist addresses the concepts of paradise, desire, longing and perfection. In relation to the exhibition title, a cliché postcard phrase bordering sincerity and vapidity, the paintings employ a jumbling of body parts and whimsical invented forms, and reference ideas of paradise through symbols like skies, flesh, clouds, and rainbows. The artist paints trompe l’oeil collage elements of ‘perfect’ subjects to fantastical ends. Drawing imagery from lifestyle magazines that present contrived concepts of perfection, Tollefson takes ownership of, twists, and reconfigures these constructs, creating his own imitation of paradise.
The paintings presented in “Wish You Were Here” continue the artist’s investigation into the tension between painted space and physical space. Through a jumbling of illusionistic forms with hard-edged, cartoon-like imagery or a confusion of space through patterning, Tollefson bends notions of reality. As the artist explains, “The environments and bodies depicted in my paintings are a metaphor for our fabricated reality… I question what is real in a culture in flux, one in which we are increasingly confronted with an excess of simulacra rather than sincere experience.”
Expanding upon the tension between painted space and live environment, Tollefson creates site-specific wall paintings upon which the artworks are hung. Cartoonish, colorful forms are found throughout the gallery, from several walls engulfed in a large, lilac painting of fabric ruffles, to disembodied limbs, and smaller pieces resembling childlike stickers.
Opening reception, Friday April 13, 7 - 9 PM
in the Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond
Free and open to the public