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WAP: Paul Stephen Benjamin
11am - 5pm
2016/2017 Working Artist Project
This round of Working Artist Project was curated by René Morales, Curator, Perez Art Museum, Miami, Florida.
René Morales received degrees in Art History from Swarthmore College and Brown University. He has been a curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami—previously known as Miami Art Museum—since 2005. In 2014, he organized the museum’s current collection display Global Positioning Systems. Morales organized three well-received exhibitions for the opening of PAMM in 2013—Amelia Peláez: The Craft of Modernity, A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, andMonika Sosnowska: Market. Recent exhibitions he has organized include a survey of the work of Miami-based painter Victoria Gitman, a discursive installation by Marjetica Potrc, a project that incorporates live parrots by the Rotterdam-based artist pair Bik Van der Pol, a site-specific sculptural work by Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo, and a selection of Romare Bearden’s 1964 Photostat works. Morales is currently working on newly commissioned projects with Sarah Oppenheimer and Susan Hiller, as well as a major survey of the work of Dara Friedman. Prior to working at PAMM, Morales worked at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Paul Stephen Benjamin: Pure Black
“The title of the exhibition refers to Benjamin’s exploration of a series of commercial paint shades—Valspar’s Very Black, New Black, and Behr’s Pure Black and Totally Black—applied individually in thick velvety layers to a series of large paintings. While the luxurious surfaces, tonal differences, and inky characteristics of these colors weigh vibrant and dense on the surfaces of Benjamin’s paintings, there lies hovering a constellation of complicated questions related to the artist’s use of color and society’s representation of race. The expression of these shades as “totally,” “new,” and “pure” black (as unique a marketing decision as I have ever seen!) point to the externalization of color as both visual sensation and cultural construct, sensory experience and political category leveraged historically to keep power structures, inequalities, and imperialist forms of occupation alive. Circulating the gallery, it felt clear that Benjamin’s decision to make work with and about black in this fraught sociopolitical moment, where minority communities of all kind are struggling under this administration and racial and ethnic tensions between communities of color and (state) power are at all-time highs, was one of urgent necessity.”
*Amirikhani, Jordan. Art Review: Two Takes on Paul Stephen Benjamins’s Pure Black at MOCA GA. burnaway.org, November 2017
Major funding provided by the Charles Loridans Foundation and the Antinori Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to Lifecycle Building Center and American Insulated Glass for providing in-kind material donations for this exhibition.