Art in Review – Trudy Benson: 'Paint'

Karen Rosenberg, The New York Times, May 9, 2013

A generation of artists who grew up using a mouse as comfortably as a paintbrush is now coming of age and bringing the giddiness of those formative computer art experiments to good old oil on canvas. This is exciting news, to judge from Trudy Benson’s solo show at Horton.


Many of her large, squarish canvases — the proportions bring to mind early Mac monitors — mimic the squiggly, uncontrollable lines and seemingly miraculous instant color-fills of 1980s graphics programs like MacPaint. (It was released in 1984, a year before Ms. Benson was born.) A few, like “Touchpad Painting” and “Tablet,” hint at more contemporary technologies with ebullient squiggles and swipe marks.


The abstract “Dot, Diamond, Dash” uses seemingly every tool in the on-screen paint box: striped, solid and gradient backgrounds, thick and thin and broken lines. The reductive landscape “Moon Over Miami,” meanwhile, is a model of restraint with its peach-and-blue palette — except for the light-gray scrawl that covers the middle ground, in an apparent outburst of digital expressionism.


The feverishly bright, hallucinatory paintings of Keltie Ferris, also inspired by early computer art, inevitably come to mind. But where Ms. Ferris tends to use spray paint as her top layer, Ms. Benson buries her own graffiti-esque passages under thick smears of the palette knife or squeezes of the tube. There is a deliberate heaviness to her work, an impasto that no screen can yet evoke.


Original Publication