Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce Valley Nights, a new series of paintings by Ben Reeves. The exhibition will open in the main gallery space from October 1st and run until October 24th. This is Reeves’ first solo exhibition at the gallery.
The culture and landscape of the West Coast has always been a powerful source of inspiration in Ben Reeves’ work. He grew up in Lynn Valley on the North Shore of Vancouver and currently resides in Tsawwassen, a suburb outside of the city. Best known for the physicality of his surfaces, Reeves often applies large mounds of paint to represent snow or rain making no attempt to disguise its material construction. His exploration into the relationship between an image and the paint itself continuously pushes his practise forward and encourages new techniques.
The paintings in Valley Nights almost exclusively take place at twilight, the time of day when figures and animals become ambiguous silhouettes. This setting is the perfect playground for Reeves’ style that often verges on abstraction. While the subjects in his paintings are inspired by his surroundings or memories from his childhood, the dream-like palettes of blues, purples and pinks immediately transport the viewer and call into question whether these spaces are real or imagined. With his adept hand and deep understanding of paint, Reeves is able to capture the experience of rain, snow and light with his raw application more convincingly than if he had rendered them the way they actually appear.
"My paintings are of imaginary spaces but borrow heavily from where I live, Tsawwassen. It is similar to my childhood neighbourhood — the house where I now live was built the year I was born. My present is haunted by the past and, because I have two teenage sons, it is also haunted by the future.
The paintings use colours like deep blues that seep into surfaces, optically recede and open imaginary spaces behind the picture plane. These paintings are conscious of their surface as a threshold. I aim to activate the canvas with pours of paint and thin mineral washes that soak in, but I also squeegee thick paint across it. I scrape, collage and stick dried paint into the surfaces.
I often confuse the space of painting with the space of the world. I am interested in abstraction where forms have autonomy and (on one order) are non-signifying. The way paint pushes across a surface is similar to how snow covers a street and tire tracks are like drawn lines. I find that painting echoes reality very closely in that both are a mixture of the actual and imaginary."