20010413 nytimes:
Steve DiBenedetto
Steve DiBenedetto makes splendidly gnarly, infernally incandescent paintings. The six medium- size, semiabstract canvases in this excellent show may be appreciated purely as rich essays in painterly improvisation.

Brushing, troweling, scraping, scumbling and gouging, the artist creates topographies of nonstop tactile and chromatic intrigue. Areas of thick, striated impasto border on sections of translucent color; patterns of woven or braided lines incised into the paint are irradiated by crepuscular light. In places, fine doodling looks like the work of an obsessive madman, while other areas suggest a formalist experimentalism like that of Terry Winters or Thomas Nozkowski.

Emerging to varying degrees of visibility are Ferris wheels, helicopters and octopuses. A Jungian analyst might view these round, spoked images as mandala-form archetypes of wholeness and unity. The first two, however, are manmade, mechanical objects emblems of rational, Apollonian order wrested from the Dionysian depths where the octopus lives. The last, a sinuous, luxuriantly painted beast, clings to a web of brown lines against a background like hot, yellow sunlight in "Psychoptor." In "The Greedy Hippie," mudslides of murky doodling engulf from above and below a luminous, rainbow- hued Ferris wheel.

The id and the intellect, then: the octopus gives Mr. DiBenedetto's painting its sensuous, instinctual flow; the Ferris wheel its playful formal wit.
- linda 4-16-2001 2:40 pm

I've got better things to do than slag the Times again, but the New Yorker's capsule review of Steve's show gets more across in one paragraph than the paper of record:

For the last few years, DiBenedetto's paintings have been infected by a swarming, kaleidoscopic pictorrhea: images and patterns seemed to germinate, collide, and cannibalize each other almost at random, and it was hard to tell if the artist was on to something or just losing his grip. Here, his paintings are suddenly bolder-both more omnivorous and clearer than before. It takes a while to adjust to DiBenedetto's run-on syntax, and what you do see almost defies description (Richard Dadd meets Hundertwasser? Translucent helicopters meet braided rainbows?), but the results are utterly distinctive and absorbing. Through May 2.
(Baumgartner, 418 W. 15th St. 633-2276.)
I tried to get something across in a bit for an aborted catalog project. Steve wanted me to get into the iconography, which may be somewhat oblique to some in the art world (certainly the New Yorker has a better grasp than the Times). This would not have been published without some sort of nod to the late Terrance McKenna, whose ideas have been inspirational to both me and Steve, going back to the late 1980s. Anyway, here's the blurb. See the show while you can.
- alex 4-19-2001 5:06 pm [add a comment]

  • Nice piece Alex. Can we get a photo of that ferris wheel (or some other) painting to put on that page? Again, really nice job.
    - jim 4-19-2001 9:32 pm [add a comment]

    • OK, I inserted a couple of links to the artnet pages, which are not necessarily the best correspondences for the text, but the best I could find on the web. Not sure if more can be done at this point, but I'll check with Steve as to availability of images.
      - alex 4-19-2001 9:54 pm [add a comment]

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