SaLon Gallery presents Ben Young’s London Debut Solo Exhibition entitled, ‘Contemporary
Man’, featuring his latest body of work, from 27th November 2008 to 10th January 2009.
Contemporary Man is an allegorical exhibition of new work by British artist Ben Young.
Young has created an artistic double, The Contemporary Man, through whose eyes we see.
This, his second one-man exhibition this year, follows on from his recent show at
Locuslux gallery in Brussels, where he introduced the ‘Irrational Subject’, another
emotional/psychological proxy. The irrational subject attempts to find its way out of the
contextualised reality in which it is seen, and was invented to test out and prove a certain
lebensphilosophie, namely that Truth is real because it is that which you cannot escape.
Contemporary Man is a progression of this lebensphilosophie, where his artistic double
plays upon the alienation created by the numerous images of television, advertising,
and mass media. Young is interested in the parallel realities of the image, and art,
created by the overwhelming visual streams we are subject to in everyday reality of life.
Young started to paint seriously in 1997 at the age of 24. He has lived and worked in several
countries worldwide and shown in numerous group exhibitions from London to New York,
and San Remo to San Francisco. Young spent a great deal of his youth travelling, exploring
India and Australia, and settled for several years in San Francisco. He completed a Masters
Degree in Fine Art in 2007, from Central St Martins, and has since then had a studio based in
Hackney Wick while undertaking a residency in Berlin, and exhibiting in Europe and America.
‘I want to make something contemporary that hits you in the face. A way of showing
us to ourselves.’ Ben Young, Interview in H Art Magazine, Brussels, October 2009.
The works in Contemporary Man are created using oil and spray-paint on canvas or
linen, creating a contemporary image through the combination of old and new technique.
Young ‘wants to make oil contemporary, to give a weight to spray paint. He wants
‘to make spray more elegant, because it is brutal, savage’. He cites the “difference” of
Derrida as a frame for his practice and technique. He looks at the duality of appearing
and disappearing, presence and absence, creating multilayered highly sculptural canvases,
forcing the viewer to be aware of the uncertainties of perception brought about by the,
constantly repeated and changing, images of mass media. The meanings of his pieces
are deliberately uncertain. Young’s images emerge out of their own reality, confronting
the viewer at the cusp of understanding, and the construction of the image they observe.
In the paintings of Contemporary Man, the surface is scratched and stripped away, blurring
the viewer’s understanding of which layer comes first. Young responds to the profusion of
images by using the image itself, revealing that out of one image another emerges, and
that the stream of interpretation and seeing is constant and multilayered. We look through
multiple layers of fragile, crafted collage, words, paint, and oil, at an image constantly in
flux, where the opacity of the image’s effect is as resonant as the words which shape our
perception and opinion in media. Young reverses the flow of information, doubling the
possibilities of the image, and reveals it is what we see that shapes what we understand.