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Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is proud to present young American artist Benjamin Butler’s first solo exhibition in London.

Within this new group of works, Butler’s iconic exploration of the ‘tree’ takes on a dark, almost monochromatic character. These paintings are in one sense relics of Modernism – arguably an extended and diversified exploration of Mondrian’s tree paintings, and an assertion of the objecthood of the canvas. Butler’s loose economical mark-making loses the idealism of pure abstraction however, acknowledging the materiality of the canvas as well as his process of making. These elements are exemplified or ‘performed’ through vivid gestural, yet minimal, permutations. Through concentrated divisions of the picture plane, Butler’s paintings use drawing to explore ideas of depth, surface and horizon in a painted space that hovers tentatively between abstraction and figuration.

‘Take him as an abstractionist or as a representationalist, his art is good either way. Whether you see him as a detached and canny commentator on art history and the vicissitudes of its styles and conventions or as an almost naïve sentimentalist intoxicated with the fluidity of paint and the beauty of colour, the work proves you right. If you think formal order is key, the paintings will nod in agreement, but the same if instead you’re inclined to see evidence of a spiritual longing that flickers through the screen of the material world like the light of dawn through a dense stand of trees. And speaking of trees, if you prefer to think Butler is really fascinated by their capacity to serve as an all-embracing metaphor, well, right you are if you think you are, but if you want to suggest that for him the tree is merely a nominal device on which to hang a painting, that’s ok too. Is he a starry-eyed transcendentalist or an old fashioned workman fitting forms together like a carpenter with a job of work to do? Yes, and yes, as far as the paintings go. No valid interpretation refused. Just like Warhol.’ (Barry Schwabsky, Benjamin Butler, Selected Paintings 2001-2012).

Benjamin Butler (born 1975) lives and works in Vienna. Recent solo exhibitions include Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna; Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo; Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin; Galerie Michael Zink, Berlin; Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles; Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery (New York) and Team Gallery, New York. Group exhibitions include Greetings from New York, New Abstraction, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg; A.C., Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; Palette, Greenberg van Doren; and Greater New York, PS1, New York.



Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-4.
For further information, please contact Claire Nichols on gallery@houldsworth.co.uk or +44 (0)20 7734 7760.

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Benjamin Butler
In the Midst, Between, Betwixt
installation view, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 2013