Ben Moreau

For the past decade I was primarily concerned with self-portraiture as a vehicle not only for personal reflection, but as an exploration into the human condition.

Television, film, comic books, and heavy metal music are drawn upon as aggregate elements that convey the loneliness of the individual amidst existential dilemmas. With subtle nods to art history, awkward or unusual cropping and compositions are showcased, with an emphasis on a blank, empty space. This allows for an intimate, uncomfortable, and at times confrontational experience with the viewer. Removed from the context of a narrative the images utilize humor and self-deprecation as defense mechanisms to ultimately conceal specific issues of awkwardness, loneliness, insecurity, the fear of failure, and social anxieties and pressures. Role-playing, banality and the mundane, and habits and behaviors operate as forms of escapism. My work acts dually as a form of self-mockery and as the ultimate shield against the fragility of existence. Ultimately, the work is a chronicle of an individual struggle and adaptation to external forces beyond its control. In this respect the self-portrait is symbolic of the daily internal struggles that afflict everyone. Fear and anxiety are projected into the work as I attempt to reconcile my existence with inevitability.

Recent projects have utilized these ideas as a springboard in order to exhaust the possibilities of prescribed, rigid concepts. The images created in The Crucifixion of St. Peter series are based on an organic development of actions. Using the upside-down crucifixion of St. Peter as a starting point I attempted repeatedly to put myself in the same essential position, with minor variations. Drawing loosely from Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint series, I replaced the physical obstacles of Barney’s drawing performances with an imaginary resistance. The narrowness of personal vision our own mental limitations is exemplified by this self-imposed boundary. There exists an absurd quality and awkwardness in the images as I struggle with no external forces, only the self. The drawings contained in the Beta Male project were conceived and developed from a strict set of rules. Building off of, and responding to, a decade’s worth of exploration into self-portraiture, the work is a distillation down to potraiture’s essential visual components. Images of my face are tightly cropped, and limited to fundamentally the same position, and there exists an awkwardness in the pieces as I stare directly out at the viewer creating tension and a forced engagement. The immediacy and directness of drawing operated in tandem with the modest scale to encourage production. These drawings returned my studio practice to a point of simplicity: pencil, paper, and representation.

My latest body of work, tentatively titled “Marathon Man”, is a project consisting of modestly scaled intaglio prints (mezzotints and etchings), as well as relief prints created for installations that are adhered directly onto the wall of British marathon/long distance runner Ben Moreau. Different visual strategies are utilized for these pieces as I am exploring representation through collage to exploit different facets of human locomotion and the physical conditioning required in marathon running. The work created will examine the hard work, discipline, and labor associated with long distance running mirrored by the discipline, and technical knowledge and skill associated with mezzotints and large-scale installation based printmaking. Parallels exist between the solitude of distance running and a singular individual studio practice. Both practices require focus and dedication allowing for moments of personal reflection and can function as an exploration into the human condition. Pattern and repetition are explored as visual metaphors recalling the physical act of running: step-by-step, mile after mile. The work will be a fun play on identity, as we are both “linked” by the same name, and the construction and conception of self.