February 14 – April 17, 2016
Benoît Platéus and I first met in LA last year when he spent a few months here with friends making work. He was working on beautiful multi-colored resin sculptures cast out of bottles for photo processing chemicals and paintings on vintage movie posters affixed to the support. I loved the work—feeling that he dealt with abstraction in novel ways while exploring issues of indexicality in photography, his previous primary medium. We showed the sculptures and paintings last summer at NEWD, a Bushwick art fair showcasing alternative spaces I organize with my partner Kate Bryan. Since then, Benoît and I kept in touch while he was based back in Brussels and I was preparing my move from NY to LA, hoping to work together again; Benoît has always been kind and gracious (even in unpleasant situations like a work getting damaged in transit). I know art press releases all say this, but I am genuinely very pleased to open Skibum MacArthur, a new project space in LA, with Benoît.
In the new body of work Behind the Scenes, Benoît further pushes the abstraction explored in his paintings by mounting the movie posters backwards onto the canvas. He then engages with the faint ghostly image on the largely white background, painting over signifiers like words or faces. The posters, largely of older B movies from Hollywood, Hong Kong, and France, serve as readymade compositions of text and image, promising narrative content yet evading simple understanding due to Benoît’s gestural erasures. The paintings—hung upside down, renouncing the frontality of the poster image, obscuring signifiers—evince new methods and forms of abstraction.
The resulting effect is of pictures that feel familiar yet inscrutable. Emptied of content yet evocative of potentially decipherable symbols and meaning, the paintings act as Rorschach tests for interpretation while at the same time drawing attention to aesthetic qualities of the works such as materiality of the paper, including the folds of the posters.
As the city of Los Angeles buzzes with the excitement of the awards season, celebrating the film industry which has been the dominant cultural producer worldwide for the better part of a century, Benoît’s Behind the Scenes paintings—in employing obfuscation as a means of eliciting ecumenical understanding—highlight the hyperreality of the images that we encounter every day from mass media like films and suggest that such images act as a global lingua franca in today’s image-saturated, increasingly visual culture.
Benoît Platéus was born in Chênée (Belgium) in 1972, and lives and works in Brussels. His work has been shown in many monographic and group exhibitions in such institutions and galleries as: Almine Rech (London), WIELS (Brussels), Galerie Albert Baronian (Brussels), Marfa Book Company (Marfa), Annarumma (Naples), Neochrome (Turin), Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris), Mu.ZEE (Ostende), Middlemarch (Brussels), and Karma (New York).