Ben Barretto: SELF HELP at The Popular Workshop

Mar 01, 2013 - Apr 12, 2013The Popular Workshpp, San Francisco


Opening this Friday March 1st in San Francisco, The Popular Workshop is proud to present Self Help, new work by Ben Barretto (Australian b. 1985). Self Help continues Barretto’s ongoing exploration into recursion; with each of the series of works he presents ‘making’ themselves to some extent. That is, the chosen material and its inherent properties inform the process and drive the work into a constant loop of feedback.



Self Help presents iterations of this process over 3 different mediums, including hand woven tapestries made from used climbing rope, reconfigured nylon training pants and a set of oil paintings. Within each of these series, Barretto creates a system through which the material qualities of each medium are unbound and rebound into a continuous ongoing cycle, a cycle which sits in collaboration with the expressive additions of Barretto’s own hand, having these works sit somewhere between assemblage and action painting.

The set of oil paintings, belonging to a series the artist calls ‘painting paintings’ depict a collision of abstraction and process based action painting. For these works a set amount of oil paint is spread over a number of canvases and the surface of each canvas is systematically stamped onto the surface of the next, a process which continues back and forth, over and over again. This repetitive stamping eventually results in a gritty layer of colour forming over the surface of the paintings, muting out the original hues. At this point the artist utilises the frame of the canvas to draw into the surface of the next painting, using it as a giant tool to scrape back into the muddled grey layer to reveal the original painting underneath. In doing so, he destroys one painting to create another, each surface interacting with the next in an ongoing cycle.

Ben Barretto is an Australian artist currently living and working in Los Angeles, California.


March 1 – April 12, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday March 1st, 6 – 10pm

The Popular Workshop
1173 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109