Summer-Upon-Summer-Love: Ana Benaroya + Peter Saul @ Ross + Kramer Gallery, East Hampton
It may not be the summer getaway show we thought it was going to be when we spoke with Ana Benaroya for the Spring 2020 cover story and Radio Juxtapoz podcast earlier this year. A lot has changed. But the works that Benaroya has creating over the past few years still have a vibrancy and allure that even the tiniest of screens can emanate, these larger than life characters (as in some cases, the characters in the paintings are bigger than viewer themselves) that live in a fantasy world where Benaroya "can bring attention to power imbalances that exist within our society."
Which makes the pairing between Ana Benaroya and Peter Saul in Ross + Kramer Gallery's East Hampton show, Summer-Upon- Summer Love, such a clever curation. Saul, known as one of the godfathers of comic-book/politically satirical Pop Art, often wore his politics right on his sleeve. The characters are right there: Trump, Reagan, Bush. And the backdrops were literal: Vietnam War, Iraq, Civil Rights. The way he twisted and contorted the bodies, the way surrealism played into his political paintings is where you can find the influences that Benaroya has now taken into a contemporary context.
"Using the language of comics, caricature, and pop culture, I explore and expand my understanding of the physical and emotional limits of my own body," Benaroya says. "Each body I depict is an extension of my own body – and each image allows me to feel more powerful and to physically grow. I am infuenced by images of bodybuilders, anatomy books, gig-posters, and artists such as Tom of Finland, Robert Colescott, the Chicago Imagists as well as children’s artwork. Music and song lyrics often play a role in the titles of my works."
That Benaroya, in some respects, has refreshed the use of comics in contemporary art, is a fascinating development that we have seen over the last decade. She has taken these characters and created a dialogue of contemporary politics that is, in many ways, the origins of the comic book form itself. "My hope is for my work to be a reflection of the world around us: exaggerated, yet truthful in revealing the unsaid reality." —Evan Pricco
Ross + Kramer Gallery proudly presents a two-person exhibition opening June 20, 2020 in East Hampton.