The Vain Noise at the Entrance of Silence is the potent title of Pablo Benzo's latest solo show which opened April 23rd at Galeria Animal in his hometown of Santiago, Chile. Inspired by the Austrian-Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, this second exhibition with gallery shows a mature but perceptive appreciation of the still and serene.  


"It is a very deep book, and, as usual in his work, marked by a tone of quietness," Benzo told Juxtapoz about his choice for the title of his show. "I have thought a lot, especially in these times we live in, about solitude, silence, and tranquility. About what stands in the way of our clarity."  From writing graffiti around Santiago to living and working as a studio painter in Berlin, his personal and creative journey have created a visual language that reflects place and history in a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. Mixing flatness with volume, lustrous surfaces with sections of expressive brushwork, vibrant colors with subdued tones, and continuously experimenting with perspective and points of view, he thoughtfully achieves drama in a tight equilibrium of elements. The new still-lifes thrum with exquisite tension within their transfixing aura.

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"These images have to do with my taste for the objects that live with us and that are in our memory, it has to do with collecting," the artist explains about the way figures are  re-introduced in his work. "I enjoy furniture, lamps, and vases, in a way similar to how I enjoy the presence of plants, their forms and materiality, reflections, and silhouettes." Now, years after excluding them in his works, he is subtly returning them, bestowing the objects human features or adorning them with similar imagery. "They come partly from reference, partly from memory. It's a mixture and it's a constantly changing practice. Sometimes I use examples and observe how the volumes are produced and how the patterns are constructed. Other times when I try to remember, I sometimes start with references that I then stop observing, and that finally turns into something else," he explains  about his conception of such unusual forms.  Additionally, some pieces introduce architectural elements or landscape sections, pushing the works closer to  surrealism influences, but still rendered through cubism-defined aesthetics.

Weirdly matching the stillness of his concepts and work, this important showcase opened during the lockdown, prolonging Benzo's visit to his native country while show opening plans were cancelled.. "It seems to me that the only difference is that, due to the quarantines, the closing of stores, and restrictions on mobility within the city, I had to stop doing several things that I wanted to include in the exhibition. The opening without people was not a problem." With two flights back canceled and away from his home and studio in Berlin, he is resigned to stillness like the subjects of his work. "The biggest problem is that I am unable to return to Berlin and my studio," Indeed, A Vain Noise at the Entrance of Silence. —Sasha Bogojev