Vane is pleased to celebrate the opening of our new gallery space with the launch of ‘Object’, a solo exhibition by Bobby Benjamin. Founded in 1997, this year marks Vane’s twenty-fifth anniversary as one of the leading contributors to the grassroots art scene in the North East of England. After ten years in our previous building in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre, we welcome you to our new home across the River Tyne in Gateshead.
Bobby Benjamin is an artist based in Teesside. Working primarily in found materials, he makes paintings and sculptures exploring themes of class, masculine identity and place. His use of found objects acts as a creative restraint within which he addresses the voyeuristic relationship between the arts as an industry, and the working/underclass. He challenges cultural hegemony and hierarchical perceptions of culture while embracing the history of found objects and the materiality of paint.
Benjamin produces work that is site specific and transient, with deinstallation and destruction often going hand in hand. His materials often act as the connection through his wider practice; with objects and symbols regularly re-imagined and re-used from one piece to the next to act as recurring motifs or ‘Easter eggs’.
‘Object’ comprises a series of new, site-specific works made from found materials and adorned with locally sourced graffiti. These installations are made up of objects that bare specific relevance to both the artist himself and to the wider themes of this display: class fetishization and the toxicity of masculinity.
In these works, Benjamin uses pressure and tension to reflect the realities of life in a Northern town – addressing topics such as mental health, with certain pieces in a delicate balance, ready to burst or collapse at any moment, or remain robust throughout.
Benjamin is the youngest of eight brothers and grew up in a low-income household in the coastal town of Redcar. He moved to Middlesbrough to pursue a career in the arts at the age of 25, inspired by his first ever visit to a contemporary art gallery. He is a keen advocate of the role art has to play in the lives of young people and their communities, working with both National Saturday Club at MIMA and Borderlands in Middlesbrough.
Bobby Benjamin was born in Middlesbrough in 1983 where he lives and works. He studied for a National Diploma in Photography at The Northern School of Art, and BA Hons in Fine Art at Teesside University, Middlesbrough, graduating in 2013. In 2019 he completed an MA in Fine Art from MIMA School of Arts & Creative Industries. His exhibitions include ‘Major Conversations: The Industrial Narrative’, Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough, touring to The Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, ‘Legacy – 50 years of Painting in the Tees Valley’, The Auxiliary, Middlesbrough (2019), ‘GIBBO IS GOD’, ARC, Stockton (2021), and ‘DEERO’, Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough (2022). In 2014 he launched his first gallery, The House of Blah Blah, in Middlesbrough, followed in 2015 by the launch of Dovetail Joints curatorial project. In 2018 Benjamin launched the gallery, Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough, where he is currently co-director. He is also a part-time lecturer at MIMA School of Art & Creative Industries and Teesside University, Middlesbrough, and is a member of Bolton University’s Industry Advisory Committee.
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