Thierry-Goldberg Gallery is pleased to present Ben Grasso’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.
Grasso continues his dedicated study of the unsettled interplay between the destructive forces of nature and architecture, and, for the first time, examines interior spaces and their connection with the outside world.
Perhaps because of Grasso’s prolonged study of the fragility of dwellings and their uneasy union with the phenomena of the physical world, a subtlety exists with these new works, which sees the artist in lockstep with his subject matter and beginning a shift to—dare we say—a more harmonious existence between humanity and nature. This may be a false sense of security however due to his palette of congruous and complementary colors that glow from within or explode with great force, while remaining a visual feast.
Grasso does not have a set agenda with his creations and invites the viewer to become a participant in the process, filling in gaps and making their own narrative. One thing is clear; Grasso’s focus on foliage further blurs the line between the chaos and order often present in his work. Several of his canvases feature houses floating in the sky, lifted up by a momentous gust of wind where they hover like alien spaceships in precarious treetops. For the first time, we see what this disruption looks like from the inside out, as orange and yellow brushstrokes bring to mind a fireball of destruction, as much as they do leaves and the autumn season. The outside realm becomes part of the inside space, resulting in a claustrophobic atmosphere where flames or fauna encroach and engulf.
Humankind is a secondary and completely absent player in Grasso’s depictions, where each structure takes on a palpable importance, despite their fragility. They may not possess the Vitruvian virtues of solidity and usefulness, but their grandeur is evident despite their other shortcomings.
The undeniable physical presence of a structure, no matter its condition, is certainly central to the core of these renderings, which although based on photographic references, retain a sense of anonymity. Without dwelling on nostalgia, they could be seen as relics from the urban decay existing in Grasso’s native Cleveland, Ohio, the rust belt of Detroit or as a result of the deindustrialization that took place in Buffalo, New York. Although still early in his career, Grasso, like Charles Burchfield before him, could be said to conjure the spiritual elements of nature through hallucinatory and dreamlike visions.
Ben Grasso (b. 1979, Cleveland, OH) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He holds an MFA in painting from Hunter College, New York and a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art. A recipient of the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant and the NYFA fellowship, Grasso has previously exhibited at The Queens Museum, NY; The Amelle A. Wallace Center, Old Westbury, NY; Jerome Zodo Gallery, Milan, Italy; The Reinberger Gallery, Cleveland, OH; and David Klein Gallery, Detroit, MI. His work has been featured and reviewed by Art in America, Time Out New York, Artnet Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.