"Gates" by Ben Cowan

March 6, 2018 - May 6, 2018
In his series "Gates," Ben Cowan paints familiar landscapes that invite us to explore what is beyond plain sight. His intimate paintings juxtapose the natural with the constructed and invite us to consider all of the forces at work in their creation. His paintings hint at a lively narrative, of unseen hands that created, planted, and cultivated the verdant growth evident in each scene.  Cowan’s work solicits our attention, beckons us forward, yet limits our view to within its borders, asking us to pause and contemplate the crossing of the threshold.

The common settings captured in Cowan’s paintings are frequently passed in the meanderings of city life but also easily overlooked or taken for granted. Cowan grabs our attention with remarkable frames of reclaimed doorways that adorn his work but also force us to take a concentrated view. The apparent restrictions prompt us to consider what permissions may be required to enter a space. Does denial encourage a shift in our perspective?

Photos by Brittany Buongiorno
Curated by Eva Ting & Angie Vuys

About the artist:
Ben Cowan was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI by a creative and musical family. He received a BFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Indiana University. His painting reached a turning point during a residency in Umbria, Italy through the exposure and study of its historic vistas. The visual landscape and character of his immediate surroundings has since remained an inspiration wherever he calls home. Ben currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY creating paintings of familiar urban sights cropped, collaged and simplified in order to capture a concentrated experience that refers to the interpersonal and supernatural. His work has been shown in solo and group shows throughout the U.S., including New York City and Chicago. 

Listen to Ben's Artist Talk:
On April 18 art historian Kristen Racaniello sat down with Cowan for an enlightening and entertaining deep dive into pigments, hues, architecture, and how religion, psychology, and optics inform Ben's work. Click here to hear the full conversation, including Q&A with the audience.