RAIR | 2016-17
BEN WOODESON | LONDON, ENGLAND
Born and raised in London, England, Ben Woodeson gained an MFA at Glasgow School of Art in Scotland and has taught extensively at art schools in the UK and North America. In 2014 he was joint winner of the Anthology Prize at Charlie Smith Gallery, London and in 2013 he was awarded the Theodore Randall International Chair in Sculpture Fellowship at Alfred University, NY, USA. He is the grandson of the German Jewish artist Jack Bilbo.
Ben has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. Recent exhibitions include ‘All Change’ at William Bennington Gallery (2016), ‘The London Open’ at The Whitechapel Gallery (2015), ‘Obstacle’ at Berloni Gallery (2015), ‘Twelve-Fisted Boxing Caterpillar: Jack Bilbo & Ben Woodeson’ at England & Co (2014), ‘Hackney Wick Takeover’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum (2014) and ‘The World Turned Upside Down’, Mead Gallery, Coventry (2013).
His work has been featured in a wide variety of publications including Elephant, GQ, Time Out (London), Art Monthly, Art Review, Creative Review and others. Woodeson recently curated ‘Morphisisation’ for APT Gallery in London, a critically acclaimed exhibition examining the work of artists for whom pre-existing objects are the raw or source material.
“I make work using myself as human litmus paper; developing art works that physically challenge and confront. I seek a balance between attraction and repulsion, security and insecurity. I aim to keep the viewer (and myself) poised in a state of slight unease, situating the human presence in a hyper awareness of our surroundings and the physical space occupied by our own bodies. I constantly physically experiment; commingling idea and intuition, investigating the physical and psychological qualities of materials through a process of trial and frequent error. How can basic rules of physics be exploited to assemble simple sculptures that straddle a line between stability and instability, action and inaction? Performative, poised, positioned and balanced; the artworks simultaneously occupy a possible moment of action and of potential consequences. Potential energy and kinetic energy; their lack of solidity becomes a potential guilty trap for the unwary or distracted.”
Roswell Museum and Art Center
Rair exhibition • Ben Woodeson "Midway Between Immortality and Certain Death" June 3 - July 16, 2017
The artist’s clean Minimalist practice is a form of truth to material, or at least truth to the fragility, physics, and potential danger of material as a signifier of the finite nature of the human form. These are works that reflect our own thin-skinned mortality, often with a sense of humour. There is almost a cruelty in the nature of the work: a joke of the blackest comedy.
Paul Black is an art consultant and Editor of Artlyst
When we encounter Ben Woodeson’s art in the gallery, we are forced into somewhat of a dilemma. With its combination of industrial materials and found objects, his works evoke detached manufactured Minimalism, or the contingent assemblages of Arte Povera in equal measure. Some even provoke a laugh, drawing on the cruel humour found more commonly in cartoons. But there is a more visceral reaction that prevents us examining his sculptures and installations too closely, a simple, almost primal question: ‘are these things safe?’ by which we actually mean ‘are we safe near them?’ This dilemma is at the core of Woodeson’s practice, balanced, somewhat precariously, as it is between humour, fascination and trepidation. It is the dilemma of risk and responsibility versus freedom, artistic or otherwise. - Kit Hammonds is curator at Museo Jumex in Mexico City
I’m increasingly interested in the interstice between the risk to the viewer and jeopardy to the work. With the new pieces, the risk and relationship between viewer and viewed is still symbiotic, but the emphasis is evolving towards the precariousness of the art works as opposed to the vulnerability of us fleshy things. - Ben Woodeson, 2017