Ben Kikuyama

Figurative Series Statement

The figures in Ben Kikuyama's series of mixed media paintings, inhabit an enigmatic world suspended on the margins of conscious and unconscious realities. They occupy the space immersed in, yet only partly aware of, a vast array of visual signs, symbols and patterns. These cryptic clues, at times repetitive and ritualistic, seem to hint at something deeper and more complex.

By combining disparate and often incongruous styles and techniques, Kikuyama has created provocative juxtapositions of moods and imagery. The paintings generally consist of classical painterly realism layered with graphical cut-out representations of recognizable and unfamiliar objects, cartoons, numbers, words, letters, paint splats, dribbles, and a host of other visual markings. At times, he infuses the space with found objects, injecting a three-dimensional element to the flat illusory world.

The background surface is often imbued with a luscious "paint peeled, weather worn" texture. A technique that he has been meticulously perfecting for several years, the artist has been able to capture the naturally organic fissures, cracking and peeling that one might find on the side of an old barn or rustic wooden fence. Very often, the structural ground is made up of a puzzle of cut and broken sections held together with wire, nails and screws. This, coupled with the distressed surface is an allusion to and reminder that things we often take for granted: systems, infrastructures, the environment etc, may not be as solid or permanent as they seem.

In this series, we discover the artist as a composer of visual poems and fragmented myths. His wonderland of incongruous dream sequences draws the viewer in, giving them a peek into a world that reveals things beyond the normal consciousness of our daily lives, which is at once strangely familiar and evocatively distant.