A Certain Light
Come to our next First Friday (July 6th, 6-9pm) to see Benny Sanders’ exhibit in the Harrison Gallery; “A Certain Light” consists of a majority of oil paintings, a few charcoal and beeswax drawings, and even some handmade frames. This exhibit will not only showcase a stunning variety of portraiture and plein air, but also Sanders’ growth as an artist.
When looking at Sanders’ paintings, you’d never believe that he’s only been painting for two years-- but you would believe that he’s incredibly hard-working and that he’s no stranger to creative expression. Sanders’ body relaxed and his eyes got brighter when he described what inspired and connects all 50 of the exhibit’s pieces.
“Until about 6 months ago, I didn’t realize how important light was in painting. It wasn’t until I noticed that the dynamic paintings that I loved all had this same emphasis on color and light.” Ever since this breakthrough Sanders has been healthily-obsessed with capturing the way that light touches everything. “I’ve never before done something where I’m learning so consistently, and the reward for learning is so great.”
Sanders explores nontraditional lighting in his portraiture (e.g., standing in front of a window, sitting underneath a lamp, backlighting, being hit with direct sunlight) in a search for light “that might naturally happen” rather than “the classic 45 degree light which just isn’t real.” Just like any parent, Sanders has a favorite in this exhibit and it’s a wonderful example of his natural use of light: “At the Window.” This search for unaffected light is fittingly apparent in his landscapes and plein air paintings as well.
The catalyst for his exhibit has been understanding why the lighting or shadow is happening. It was just a couple years ago that Sanders could relate to people who “freak out when paintings of reflections on water, shadows, and light shining are done well.” Now that he’s been observing natural light and studying the science behind it, he’s calmly freaking out about mastering those kinds of paintings himself.
As Sanders revealed the careful structure behind replicating such a fickle thing as light, he paraphrased Picasso who described “painting as the lie with which truth is revealed.” Even though Sanders’ realistic artwork can obviously only capture the image of nature, there are elements of authenticity that enchant the viewer into questioning the reality of the painting.
While most of the landscape paintings are plein air, there are a few that grew from Sanders imagination. Using a combination of details that hold potent moods like a hot summer day and an Indiana-blue sky, he hopes that “people will see it and relate because it’ll feel like they’ve been there before.”
Accessibility is a strong component in “A Certain Light,” as Sanders points out that people in general can feel comfortable approaching artwork of portraiture and landscapes because they often hold a sense of approachable familiarity. Yet while “the paintings themselves are sort of universal, each one’s lighting situation is super specific.”
Whether you understand the process behind it or not, there is a magic in Sanders’ ability to pin down these intangible aspects of life. If you are patient with “A Certain Light,” you’ll witness the paintings’ quiet revelation of subtle, everyday beauty. In this exhibit Sanders portrays that even though light is ever-changing, it’s one of the only things in life that is certain.