Benno Bodnia’s paintings are abstract compositions. A sense of depth is created through superinpositions of several layers. Semi-transparent layers are created through a technique of dripping fluid/ thin acrylic paint onto the canvas and tilting it to allow the paint to flow in various directions. These are overlayed or contrasted with opaque, sometimes pastose elements.
The work process always starts out with an impetus becoming manifest, a gesture turned into a palpable marker. This could be the beginning of a narrative, an interpellation that prompts a response. Thus starts the dialogue through which the work is created. This process is characterised by absorption, where the artist reacts spontaneously to the painting under development, in an exchange with its process of creation. Each artwork develops during several hours of concentrated attention and is often abandoned, only to be returned to. This method leads into unforeseen directions that undermine the premise at the point of departure.
Bodnia’s energetic flow reminds us of the spontaneous work of the COBRA painters and of the influence of child’s creativity that is apparent in many of the artist group’s works. The enthusiasm present in the spontaneous shapes and sudden bursts of strong colours bear reminiscences of Asger Jorn’s work. But other influences can also be discerned; the expressionism of Edvard Munch with contrasting use of colours, where surface and figure become indivisible. Abstract expressionism, with its roots in the surrealist automatism and reflection on subconscious creation. Bodnia’s occasional use of strong neon-like colours and the interplay of abstraction-figuration points the contemporary work of Daniel Richter.
Through an associative dialogue with the material, he works out the figures, whose creation is dictated by the material. However they never result in the figurative, but persist in a certain openness, which addresses the viewer.
The motifs suggest narratives, yet without completely realising them. Anthropomorphic forms are the protagonists in these narratives. The ambiguity of never completely abandoning the human figure in abstraction leaves the spectator bewildered. All the same, as we immerse into the depth that these paintings reveal behind the layers and grids, we find ourselves entangled.
Text by Eva May