Paintings from 2001-2014 by Ben Pines

Our world is vastly and intricately woven. With any given subject, taking it down to even its most basic anatomical structure can yield stunning images of the building blocks of this good earth. However, no matter how long you ponder the subtle nuances of our home in the universe, no matter how deeply you consider the depth of the earth’s ecology, there is one subject that holds a bafflingly profound complexity that seems to trump all others. That subject, my friends, is us. It is humanity. IMG_5688

Opening this Friday in Gallery No. 2 is work by Indiana artist Ben Pines. Pines, a seasoned artist who has studied art at Tufts University, Boston Museum School of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Indiana University, has brought with him to Indianapolis a collection of his work spanning the last thirteen years. In its entirety, this visual history of Pines’ progression as a fine artist is primarily composed of one central subject: figurative portrayals of people. “I was painting abstractly for a long time,” Pines explained, “In the 80s while I was training in Boston, the training itself was very pro-abstract. I tried working that way for a while, but it really didn’t satisfy me. At that point in my life I wasn’t painting very much because painting in the abstract doesn’t excite me as much as figurative painting.”


What is truly intriguing about Pines’ work though, shines through the subtle, yet formative element of the pro-abstract training he received while studying in Boston. “I paint figuratively very much like I paint in the abstract,” he said, “I’m always conscious of where things are within the rectangle. Even when I’m working with a live model and time is limited, I still spend an impractical amount of time moving things around on the canvas.  Often after a three-hour session I’ll end up with something that resembles a twenty-minute block-in because I’m not satisfied with where I place things on the rectangle. I spend a lot of time composing these portraits as if they were abstract shapes, or abstract marks on the canvas.”


Pines’ process consists of a great deal of time, care, and thought. As he structures a portrait, he spends his time moving things around on the canvas in order to create a figure that calls out to the viewer, drawing him or her in the true spirit of figurative abstract expressionism. After sanding down and rebuilding time and time again, it is his hope that, while the subject of any given piece may not be known to the viewer, the viewer will take in the nuances of the shapes dancing together and concluding in the formation of the subject. It is his hope that the viewer will ponder the depth of the subject, the intricacies and causes of each weathered facial wrinkle, the experiences tied to the work.


Artist Ben Pines’ show “Paintings 2001-2014” opens in Gallery No. 2 at the Harrison Center for the Arts tonight at 6:00.