B E N  G R A N T


The Tory Folliard Gallery is pleased to introduce, SPOTLIGHT, a new series of interviews with Gallery artists. The first featured artist, New York native Ben Grant, is an abstract painter based in Milwaukee. His work explores complex combinations of color, shape and texture.  Grant received a BFA from the Cooper Union in New York City and an MFA at the University of Wisconsin Madison.  He is currently a Lecturer of Art at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh and Parkside.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I take most of my inspiration from abstract artists who have come before me; artistswho have opened up territory that is ripe for renewal and reinterpretation.  I am also (quite obviously) inspired by color; not necessarily the color that I see when I walk down the street, but color in a more abstract sense.  Color that can refer to abstract systems such as codes, strategies, and languages is of particular interest to me.

Would you say your process is more calculated or organic?

I combine a logical and analytical approach with an intuitive and loose way of working. It's a multilayered process using a variety of materials that are applied using a multitude of techniques - including brushing, scraping, rolling, spraying, drawing, and more.  In order to successfully execute a painting like this, I must have a clear game plan to start with.  On the other hand, because my paintings are often largely covered by masking material, I find myself making aesthetic decisions based on incomplete information.

Can you describe the recent shift in your style and what direction do you see your work going in?

In my current paintings, I have reintroduced the idea of illusionistic space in a way that stays true to the abstract forms that I have been experimenting with for the past 5 years.  The introduction of more organic shapes has allowed me to open up possibilities inherent in the process.  The paintings can mean things in a way that they never could before.  I believe that my current trajectory leaves a lot of room for evolution.  I think that the process will naturally shift and change as I add or subtract variables. I am very excited about the possibilities that this new way of working has afforded me. 

There are many theories behind abstract art, such as art for art's sake, or that artcan or should be like music. What is your theory and where do you think your work fits into that genre?

I believe that painting as a medium, regardless of whether it is abstract or representational, has the power to express the indefinable that is at the core of each of us.  My paintings are not based on any objective reference, they are purely abstract, but they certainly bring to mind many different associations in the minds of those viewing them.  In making my paintings open in this way, I am trying to create an object that is representative of my own way of looking at the world while also keying into the emotions and minds of those who view it.  In the end, my biggest hope is that my paintings will speak for themselves.