Reyes | Finn is pleased to present Practice, the gallery’s third solo exhibition of work by Detroit-based artist James Benjamin Franklin, which will be on view from January 15th–February 26th, 2022.
Since the completion of his MFA five years ago, Franklin has worked to challenge the material and spatial limitations of painting. The artist has become known for creating vibrant, high-energy paintings anchored within handbuilt, instinctively-shaped, plaster-sculpted frames. Painting with vernacular materials, the artist intricately binds found textiles such as carpets, afghans, bathroom mats, and kitchen rags, with epoxy, acrylic, rubber, sand and glitter in order to create complex, layered, sumptuous surfaces that feel equally as familiar as they do foreign.
The selection of materials in order to evoke a time and place plays a key role in Franklin’s process. Though some of the items are bought new, many come from the artist’s own home or are otherwise sourced from thrift stores in Detroit, imbuing the artworks with a sense of local history and personal memory. The resulting paintings invite a meditative look at the textures, colors, and forms as they stir up subjective and sensorial associations.
Presenting nine new paintings measuring over six feet tall, the exhibition marks a major progression in the artist’s practice as he reveals his most detailed and compositionally complex works to date. The exhibition’s title takes into consideration Franklin’s work as a skilled profession as well as an ongoing experience of learning, thereby offering the opportunity to contemplate this presentation in both of these contexts.
“James’s paintings are a perfect balance. Each work is composed of endless decisions and handmade moves by the artist that result in an undeniably refined finished work. His color choices are daring and bold, his textures absorb and reflect light allowing the paintings to dance off the wall,” says Reyes | Finn Partner Bridget Finn. “Each time James makes a work, there exists a moment when he relinquishes control to the painting itself. The scale of his paintings bewitches the senses, evoking memories of jewel tone ceramic tiles that line the walls of Detroit’s historical buildings or the once glittering paint job of a classic car rolling down the street. Through textural ambiguity and gestural abstraction, he paints liberally and generously, creating alchemical transformations that defy spatial, temporal, and material constraints.”