Born 1964, Sydney, New South Wales
Guy Benfield's works involve, and to a degree 'feature', elaborate sets and decor. Benfield shows what might be thought of as ironised demonstrations of artistic endeavour. They enact perversely didactic demonstrations of counter intuitive actions that can read as metaphors or allegories for romantic conceptions of art–making. They use stylized 60s/70s period–style sets and mise en scene. The conceptions of art they deal with seem those of that period's avant–garde which in their extremism and single–mindedness can still seem sacrosanct. Part of the work's operation is to shrink, miniaturize, condense the tradition as it re–animates it: a work of summation and summary. A 'wrong–end–of–the–telescope' effect is brought about partly through the use of sets and video: these are performances captured, already in a past–facts beyond our reach, which we can witness but no longer affect. Of course the case is as much the opposite: the video is the art, includes within it these distancing effects for our judgement, these being part of the video's meaning not part of its ontological status. But Benfield's works are uncannily able to have it both ways and to enjoy the tension and instability of the relation.
At least three ineradicable cliches or truisms about art and life are tested: Universal Love Action has a couple working together, agonistically climbing the walls of their apartment to do so. So, with much undulant reaching and wrenching, they 'make art' together: from various vantage points they drip paint onto a canvas. Art and passion?
French Pups Live Action has a long–haired guitarist dip his guitar in paint and smear the walls and flick paint from the guitar 's head (also onto a canvas), bang the guitar against the surface: to make art, and much electric feedback. (Guitar solos are art, are 'expression', right?) Each of these videos ends with the work being exhibited to the camera: proof.
LP Werk (Pais Tropical) has a record player 'do' the art: a pencil is affixed and set to turning on the record spindle, while a guy holds the piece of paper inefficiently, but effortfully, in place using his toe to hold a piece of wood to which the paper is affixed. Shows finished work.
Their power derives in part from the successful conjuring of the (or a) tradition–and stems from the adequacy and persuasiveness of this re–animation. Benfield thus puts an argument, and attempts to demonstrate it–to fulfill, correctively, normatively, the brief of the form–and to extend it.
Ken Bolton from his Samstag catalogue essay, New Brew: Export Quality Six–Pack
2004 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2004 Graduate Program, Maumaus School of Art, Lisbon, Portugal
2001 Master of Fine Art by Research, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne
1999 Master of Fine Art by Course Work, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne
1987 Post Graduate in Fine Art, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne