Moon White Strip, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 44 inches
Paul Behnke's work was included in this summer's exhibition, New Talent at the Rosenfeld Gallery. He also participated in ColorEvolution at SAGE Projects in Philadelphia. His work was also included in Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA, in the Woodmere Museum's annual Contemporary Voices survey and featured in New American Paintings, Number 81, the mid-Atlantic edition this year. In October, he will be heading to the The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont to participate in a four week residency courtesy of a fellowship provided by the Dedalus Foundation.
I begin my paintings with the intention that they will be soundly connected to an exact location and time. However as the images progress from notebook jottings of experience, environment, and memory to more complete pieces, their meanings begin a steady shift from specific reactions to broad allusions. The finished works signify the faulty concepts of security, place, and distance and give form to the rituals and obsessions that sprout from these notions.
Giorgio Morandi had the greatest influence on my early abstractions. Making an abstract work seemed daunting. Too many choices of form, color and vocabulary. By looking at Morandi I discovered economy. His work showed that it's possible to have freedom within restraint and an infinite variety can come from sameness. Following his example, I pared down my colors to blacks and whites and restricted myself to compositions incorporating the grid and a single form repeated as the painting dictated. In this way I was able to make the process manageable and put my work at the beginning of its current path.
British abstract painters working in London in the early 1960's have long been a source of influence and continue to inform my work and hold my imagination. Artists such as Gillian Ayres, John Hoyland, Patrick Heron, and Albert Irvin put forward deeply personal takes on the work coming from the New York School. English abstraction is literary, personal and conveys a tremendous impact to the viewer and this is what I hope for my work.
The Argonauts, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 44 inches