Jonathan Smart Gallery is pleased to present Ben Webb’s fourth solo project with the Gallery. Self-titled, the exhibition is called Collapsing, and comprises works on paper from the last two years in the main, but also includes some work almost a decade old.
Webb has found images, had these commercially printed onto rag paper, then worked over them, pouring inks, solvents and metallic pigments energetically and by hand. Sometimes the touch is light, a graceful line or wash floating with haunting luminosity above the image. At other times though, Webb’s intervention is heavier and much more physical. Subjects are eroded by solvents, bitumen and an orbital sander. Webb’s work on paper becomes work in paper. And surfaces betray a forensic history as long and fraught as his cast of characters so obviously exude.
Webb’s gallery of heads includes glamorous women, but is dominated by men of dubious lineage – at times beautiful but also detached, disturbed and edgy. Central to a bank of new work however, is the poem Schizophrenic Highway, by Dunedin writer Peter Olds. Webb has printed it large, the same size as an image of a masked nurse administering a needle to a patient – visual company to the Olds text, a diptych in his eyes. Olds’ passionate love poem is full of weight and loss, its dissolute beauty thoroughly in keeping with Webb’s image alongside.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.