Horsham has a new ‘old master’ - not a painting, but a painter, Benjamin Smith. Through intensive training and immersion in the techniques of the great painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, this amazing artist has managed to capture the essence of old master paintings and translate that to new contemporary visions.
The stunning exhibition by this award-winning artist shows how the techniques of painting, drawing and composition created by the great painters in the European art tradition are still relevant today. And, when you see Benjamin Smith’s work in the flesh - when you stand in its presence - you will realise just how powerful these techniques and skills are. To translate the image through the medium of paint or pencil into an image that stays with you long after first viewing is a powerful ability that few genuinely have: that is why Old Masters have that status, and precisely why Benjamin Smith is an artist whose work you will want to explore again and again.
Amongst the works on display is a powerful portrait of Homer, the great Classical author and founder of European literary tradition. In Ben’s hand the portrait resonates power, importance and status, giving meaning and depth to the impact Homer had on world culture. And yet, it has been created with nothing more than a simple pencil and paper.
Ben draws on the rich tradition of art academies, where artists perfected their skills through drawing and painting casts, busts and life models, in which the diversity of the human form enabled artists to hone their skills. The exhibition has a number of such works on display, including a bust of Constanza, and life drawings. As Ben has written,
‘In virtually all mainstream art schools, the tradition of drawing and painting from life has died out. However, a small number of institutions, known as ateliers, in Europe and the United States are seeking to connect with a classical lineage stretching back to the academies of 19th Century Europe and produce a new generation of old masters. Emerging during the 17th century the atelier system later became a common method of training painters. It is a highly structured and systematic curriculum which is passed on from tutor to student. Students work together, each learning from the others with the tutor tailoring their critiques to the student's individual requirements. Artists trained in the atelier method are now using those methods to create contemporary representational art of the highest quality.’
Ben was recently awarded the prestigious Sir Siegmund Warburg Scholarship by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust in recognition of his dedication to traditional fine art.