Oil on Panel
Benjamin was a transitional piece, coming off the back of a series of unsuccessful paintings of politicians made in my second year. This series was concerned with the aura, a concept developed by Walter Benjamin and made notable in his seminal essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. After struggling with how to present these ideas in the paintings, I knew I needed to move onto something else, so to finish the series I decided to paint a portrait of Benjamin. The green stripe to the right of the image is a copy of the spine of my copy of The Work of Art essay, though with the text removed. After trying ineffectively for a year to embody the aura in my paintings, I wanted to make a painting that was firmly about the aura rather than creating the aura itself.
The painting was created after my last assessment and was the first step in the development, leading me to where my practice ultimately ended up, hence this pieces inclusion in the final year's body of work. Through this piece, I began to think far more in depth about the best ways to present ideas through painting, how to utilise symbols in representational painting, and the motivations behind making work. These important considerations laid the foundations for many decisions I have made during the final year. Also, my continued reading of Benjamin led me to his dialogues with Adorno, introducing me to the ideas of several members of the Frankfurt School, an absolutely seminal body of work in the development of my practice. I still consider the aura a central concern in my practice, but it is now one of many ideas that are investigated in my most recent work. I consider the Benjamin painting a foundational work in my development as an artist.