We subconsciously register, and react to, the energy captured in objects during their creation. Given the tremendous amount of concentration, planning and hours of painstaking execution that forms part of the creative process, it comes as no surprise that we very often stand in awe when engaging a special painting or sculpture.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the work of truly great artists has always been the ability to harness the ordinary and mundane in everyday scenes and objects to communicate a particular emotion, mood, atmosphere or even spiritual experience.
During the selection of works for this second solo exhibition of Ben Coutouvidis, I have become very conscious of these aspects of art appreciation. There is an underlying sense of truthful craftsmanship displayed in the accomplished technique of this dedicated painter. At the same time, I have been struck by the different moods and spiritual elements evident in his repertoire of landscapes, street scenes, interiors and still life paintings. Intrigued by Ben’s ability to capture these magical qualities so successfully in such a vast array of subject matter, I posed some questions:
Q: What motivates you to paint?
Ben: The departure point of my paintings is always an encountered and experienced reality that allows for the exploration of different states of mind.
Q: How do you decide what subject matter to paint?
Ben: As my approach to painting is an emotional one, my subject matter has a tendency to be wide ranging - thus recognising that the world is a mirror for internal states.
Q: Where do you believe your art formally or stylistically fits in?
Ben: Painting a ‘real’ scene means that I have developed a rational procedure - a methodology that through continual practise allows for a kind of meditative experience during the act of painting. I would classify myself as a free-range painter, using a wide range of painters past and present as touchstones or temporary guides.
Q: Please explain your use of paint technique?
Ben: My paint application varies according to how appropriate it is to the subject. Recently I have been experimenting with applying paint with hard objects, like sticks – this technique seems to energize the paint surface and adds a sculptural quality. It asserts the painting as a material object.
Q: Is there an underlying philosophy or message in your work?
Ben: My aim as a painter is to try and distil the essence of a place, situation or object. A small still life of a blue bottle with a vygie in it may therefore be representative of the wider Karoo landscape and peoples interaction with it.
Fortunately our appreciation of this collection of seductive, tactile paintings does not have to be as analytical or rational as these questions and answers – please enjoy them.
Ben Coutouvidis studied Fine Arts at Rhodes University, graduating in 1993 with distinction in Fine Art Practical (Sculpture). He registered for a Masters Degree in Fine Arts in 1994, and was awarded the Raymond Pullen Scholarship for painting in 1996.
Group exhibition ‘The Savage Garden’ with Jan Nell, Leanette Botha and Alex Murphy – Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
Landscape exhibition with Herman Niebuhr – Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
Three-man-show with Sarah Ballam and Herman Niebuhr, Grahamstown.
Masters Submission Exhibition with Herman Niebuhr, Grahamstown.
Group show, Primart, Cape Town.
Two man show with Herman Niebuhr, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg.
Group show, Cape Gallery, Cape Town.
Group show, Penny Dobbie Gallery, Cape Town
‘Karoo’, Two-man show with Herman Niebuhr, Albertyn Stables Art Gallery, Cape Town.
‘Things’, Group exhibition with Carol Lee Fine Art, Johannesburg.
‘Journeys’ Group exhibition with Carol Lee Fine Art, Johannesburg.
‘Inside/Outside’ Group exhibition with Carol Lee Fine Art, Johannesburg.
‘Great Karoo’ Solo exhibition with Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town
‘Kalk Bay to Karibib’ Solo exhibition with Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town
Exhibition of drawings, Kalk Bay Modern, Cape Town.
‘Encounters’ Solo exhibition with Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town
‘Art that inspires’ Anniversary exhibition at Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town.
‘Play’ Solo exhibition with Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town
‘-scape’ group exhibition at Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town.
Still Life, group show at Kalk Bay Modern with Walter Meyer and Hanneke Benade
Sculpture and ceramics exhibition, group show at Kalk Bay Modern
Allusions of Abstraction, curated exhibition Johans Borman Fine Art
Muse, group show at the Casa Labia Gallery, Muizenberg
Art on Paper, group show Kalk Bay Modern Gallery
Still, curated exhibition Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery
From the Heart, group show curated by Carol Hodes At The Christopher Moller Art Gallery
Big Sky- African Landscapes, curated show Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery
Seeing Things- a solo exhibition at Knysna Fine Art
Spectra – a curated exhibition at Johans Borman Fine Art
Residency at The Forge, Kalk Bay
East/West Exhibition with Lisa Strachan at Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town
The Crossing – a multimedia installation at the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town
Rhodes University Collection
Collection of the Institute of English Education in SA, Rhodes University
Webber Wentzel Bowens
© Johans Borman Fine Art