Benjamin Provo
Mixed Media

Artist Statement:

I am an artist working in ceramics, painting, and drawing.  

“Ceramics that use glaze in such beautiful ways that they are as much  paintings as useable objects.” Ellen Altfest, Artnet 2021 

My work in ceramics bridges the deep past and the present moment, using  ancient vessel forms as a surface for modern modes of abstract painting.  Beginning as forms inspired by a close study of archaic Greek, Levantine,  and Israelite pottery traditions, my vessels are treated with a polychrome  application of glazes expressing a fleeting moment of vivid, lived  experience. A surprising encounter between the deep-time, felt familiarity of  ancient forms and the ephemeral jolt of an abstract gesture expressing the  lived moment is what I seek to capture in these works. Offering a small,  quiet space for contemplation of the radical beauty of the natural world,  each collection is based in a specific place and time: Walden Pond on a  solitary walk in November; sunrise over the Ojai Valley in spring; the  blistering white-blue-green light of Hydra in June; the scarred brick façade  of a warehouse along the waterfront in Greenpoint before a late summer  storm.  

My work in painting and drawing is based in the observation and  contemplation of subtle details in the surfaces of objects in the natural  world – often discarded, compromised, decomposing or otherwise excluded  from the realm of what typically constitutes the beautiful and the good:  rusting industrial detritus, burnt trees, the frames of broken windows, dry  lichen on a boulder, peeling paint on an abandoned car, unearthed pottery  fragments, graffiti-covered bricks. The works evoke the effects of entropy  upon the urban and natural world without incorporating direct image making, rather remaining in the realm of pure abstraction while employing non-traditional materials and methods of mark making that challenge the  hierarchy of expressive gesture: scraping, scratching, rubbing, peeling,  cutting, burning, and other means of accretion and erasure.

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