Leon Benn: Lion in the Kitchen

David B. Smith Gallery

June 28 – July 27, 2019

  • Opening Reception: Friday, June 28th, 6 - 8 pm; Free and open to the public/ Artist in Attendance
  • In the gallery’s project room, a solo exhibition: Su Su: Extrusion Paintings
Leon Benn, Lion in the Kitchen, 2019, oil, oil pastel, and fabric dyes on Moroccan linen, 64 x 54 in. (162.56 x 137.16 cm)

David B. Smith Gallery is proud to present Lion in the Kitchen, a solo exhibition by Portland, Maine-based artist Leon Benn. In his second solo exhibition with the gallery, Benn reflects on the textures and potential narratives of domestic space. After spending a season indoors with mind adrift on the frozen winds of the East Coast winter, Benn found refuge in the pages of the Sunday comics. In what he calls a form of “poetic freestyle,” commonplace conditions of modern living such as artificial light, parking lots, and plastic-wrapped groceries set the stage for imagination.

In Benn’s works, with the winter snow melted and gone, great patches of wildflowers explode into life on kitchen walls while yawning creatures buoyantly emerge from their hibernation. The embodiment of the rites of spring, in carefully cultivated layers of pattern, color, and meaning, Benn’s compositions treat domestic life as a microcosm for universal experience. Playful imagery on canvas contrasts with the weight of increasingly dire news headlines, making evident the exuberant state of being Benn cultivates from the depths of cultural winter. Similar to reading the Sunday funnies, well aware of the gravity of current events on the other side of the newspaper page, Benn’s works playfully extend themselves into metaphor, offering respite and playful absurdity when needed most.

Built on a sturdy foundation of curiosity, to the tune of birdsong after the night, Leon Benn’s Lion in the Kitchen creates space for joy and wonder amidst the harshest of modern conditions, where self-reflection transforms into revelation; uncertainty into awe. About Leon Benn

Leon Benn (b. 1981, 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
1543 A Wazee Street
Denver, CO, 80202


David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to present Su Su: Extrusion Paintings, a solo exhibition in the gallery’s project room.

For her introductory exhibition with the gallery, Pittsburgh – based artist Su Su continues her dialog with visual culture through the lens of her Chinese-American heritage. Borrowing pop culture imagery culled from global corporations such as Disney and Del Monte or iconic Western art imagery via Vincent Van Gogh, Su Su fluidly deconstructs and blends loaded aesthetics, altering corresponding cultural meaning.

Su Su’s unique painting process is achieved through the extrusion of oil paint and pigments from medical syringes into porous synthetic fabric. This method harnesses chance and chaos, adeptly balancing it against her set intention, resulting in enigmatic works that burst with movement, humor, and beauty. Su Su: Extrusion Paintings challenges conventional understanding of ubiquitous cultural symbols, creating a new visual language of its own. Twisted and stretched or glitched and repeated, Su Su’s vision of bicultural identity in the wake of globalization and increasing societal unrest acts as hypnotic tonic for the ecstasies and anxieties of the Digital Age.


About Su Su

Born in Beijing, China, Su Su began painting at the Central Academy of Arts & Design at the age of 12. In 2011, Su Su received a full scholarship to attend graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, where she completed her MFA in 2015. In the fall of 2017, Su Su was honored to receive a nomination for Pittsburgh’s Emerging Artist of the Year Award. In the summer of 2018, Su Su was nominated for the Eben Demarest Trust Award and also had her solo exhibition "Between the Lines" presented at Bunker Projects. Her paintings were featured in publications such as ARTPULSE Magazine (2018) and JUXTAPOZ (2018). Currently Su Su makes paintings full-time and further develops her professional studio practice.