Leon Benn: Fields of Vision

Laura Shill: Separation Perfected

David B. Smith Gallery

October 6 - November 4 extended through Saturday, November 11, 2017

  • Opening Reception Friday, October 6th, from 6 - 8pm
  • Artist walkthrough: Friday, October 6th, 6:30pm
Laura Shill, Separation Perfected (detail), 2017, plaster, selfie sticks, laser-cut mirror, fabric, dimensions variable.

David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to present Laura Shill’s first exhibition with the gallery, Separation Perfected. This installation in the gallery’s project room, constructs a contemporary altarpiece to the omniscient presence in the lives of contemporary humans—the smart phone.

David B. Smith Gallery
1543 A Wazee Street
Denver, CO, 80202


In his first solo exhibition with David B. Smith Gallery, Leon Benn floods the main gallery with large-scale paintings bounding with vibrant colors and hallucinatory observations of macro and microenvironments. Inspired by his deeply rooted relationship with nature, in particular the forests and coastlines surrounding his studio in Portland, Maine, Benn’s Fields of Vision come in and out of focus, blending aesthetic and conceptual elements into a distinctly textured presentness.

The process involved in creating these works is key, starting with batik dyeing of hand selected Moroccan linen, which leads into drawings created with light projections, finished off with a swirling and churning application of layer upon layer of oil paints and pastels. There is a holistic connection between what Benn describes as the natural choreography of nature and the intricate surfaces of his works. Time spent near glistening creek beds and lichen covered rocks is collected and internalized, later reemerging onto canvas in bursts of technicolor euphoria.

The accumulation of environmental and artistic elements involved in Benn’s work results in a riotous balance of abstraction, curiosity, and revelation. According to Benn, his paintings “illuminate the way the artist’s mind makes an internal cerebral photograph of the landscape and helps further understand our complicated yet important relationship to the environment.” Captured on canvas yet seemingly in perpetual motion, the mundane and the fantastical occupy every corner of all discernible Fields of Vision.

Leon Benn (b. 19881, Philadelphia, PA) received his B.F.A. in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and his M.F.A. in Painting from University of California, Los Angeles. Benn’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Roberts & Tilton in Los Angeles, CA, Stems Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, and Carter & Citizen in Los Angeles, CA. Benn currently lives and works in Portland, Maine.

David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to present Laura Shill’s first exhibition with the gallery, Separation Perfected. This installation in the gallery’s project room, constructs a contemporary altarpiece to the omniscient presence in the lives of contemporary humans—the smart phone. In the face of corrupt systems and uncertain times, the masses find solace in a curated and virtual reality. “Separation Perfected”, named for the first chapter in Guy Debord’s prescient 1967 text The Society of the Spectacle, revisits the idea that “life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.” As we increasingly experience our lives as documentation of experience, are we creating a new definition of experience that reflects our discomfort with the present conditions of our existence? This installation creates an altar to the selfie, mirroring our desires and underlying anxieties. We are both together and alone in our filtered feed of images in which we exist to each other as image-objects.

As our relationships with our devices becomes ever more intimate—for many, the smart phone is the last thing we touch before bed and the first thing we reach for in the morning, when we are alone, we reach for them reflexively, and to be away from our phones creates a sort of anxiety akin to a phantom limb—it becomes clear that they have become extensions of our own bodies. And as we gaze into the mirror window of the smart phone, it simultaneously connects and isolates.

This work is not meant to serve as an indictment of our increasingly visual culture, but seeks to understand better how the constant act of looking and being looked at is changing our species and altering human experience in ways we don’t yet fully understand. Asking what it means to be present in multiple places at once, begs the additional question of what it means to be present at all. And if we are so truly connected to each other, then why are we so lonely?

Laura Shill is an artist based in Denver, Colorado whose work is a collision of sculpture, installation, performance, printmaking, and photography. Her work addresses ideas of the viewer and the subject, disclosure and concealment, absence and intimacy. Her works explore the transformative potential of people and objects through early and experimental forms of image making that pair the sinister and beautiful.

David B. Smith Gallery is committed to presenting intelligent and culturally relevant exhibitions in its Denver location, featuring the region’s most important emerging talent alongside internationally recognized artists. Through its curatorial program, participation in art fairs, and extensive media coverage in publications such as Art in America and ARTnews, David B. Smith Gallery has cultivated a strong regional, national, and international collector audience. The New York Times hailed the gallery as offering "an exciting contrast of cutting edge works” and The Denver Post declared that it is the “premiere commercial space” in Denver. The gallery also maintains an active publishing division, which produces exhibition catalogues and editions.

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