Media: Articles

Surface Treatment: The Cosmos Within

by Nancy Moyer
October 8, 2012

Rich color has poured out of the soul of Benini and onto this gallery of canvases. These powerful visual manifestations link the artist to his inspirational sources, while push-pulling the eyes of the viewer into each abstract work. New Masterworks is currently on display at IMAS.

Two major series dominate the exhibit, Courting Kaos and Face of God. Both utilize two conflicting techniques for the purpose of communicating dimensionality within the picture plane. In these new works, Benini has established a background plane of almost mechanically perfect graduated tones. He explained that in order to achieve this vibrant and luminous technique, he needs a specific working temperature for his acrylics to flow properly at the desired viscosity. To accommodate his sensitive pigments, he begins his painting day at 4am, taking advantage of the cool Texas Hill Country nights.

With all the paintings, Benini used a process that combined carefully blended backgrounds with selectively dropped acrylic in highly controlled patterns.

After laying the flawlessly smooth ground, plain and metallic acrylic paints were spilled/dropped to impact the canvas with shapes reminiscent of small splashes of molten metal.

What is the meaning of this molten perimeter that forms around a central gradient, threatening to engulf this pure meticulously controlled background? Are the paintings a metaphorical battle between the encroachments of human industry upon the purity of primal existence?  Is this a battle of balance between the realms of God and Man? In some of the paintings the chaotic splats achieve almost total encroachment. Are we, as humankind, blotting out the primal realm? Benini gives us a lot to think about.

“Courting Kaos: Open” demonstrates this duality. A vertically graduated blue tone visually moves from a saturated hue at the top of the canvas to white. The textural splats of paint border each side, appearing to tear apart in the center, revealing the carefully blended ground. The distressed paint, consisting of solid black, grey, and white values, creates a foreground layer against what we unconsciously perceive as distant sky.

Throughout the paintings, another interesting aspect of the splatter layer is the use of metallic and iridescent paints, which shift color and tone as the viewer walks by. This movement within the composition adds a further dimension to the works. The play between the overt coloration of the ground and the ephemeral metallic color shifts within the textures creates a vibrant, shifting, spectacle.

Benini’s paintings come from within, inspired by a greater reality. His painting, “Shaping Kaos: The Great Dream,” is described with his poem:

"I once found myself                                                                                                                                
Into a perfect dream                                                                                                                                    
Full of glowing shades of love                                                                                                               
It grew and grew                                                                                                                     ‘til it became one                                                                                                                                          
With me.”

Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached

Photo by Nancy Moyer

Photo by Nancy Moyer

Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012 1:31 pm
Nancy Moyer

What: New Masterworks by Benini

Where:    International Museum of Art & Science, 1900 Bicentennial

When: Through January 20, 2013. Hours are Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat. 9 am -5 pm; Thurs: 9 am to 8 pm; Sun. 1-5 pm

Contact: 956-682-1564 or General admission is charged.
Admission is free from 4-8pm every Thursday.