Benz and Chang, “Make Believe”
August 20th – September 18th, 2022
Haven Gallery is honored to present watercolorist Benz and Chang for his solo exhibition, “Make Believe” at the gallery. “Make Believe” is a collection of nine paintings that merge the living with the spiritual world through antique palettes, photography techniques and playful narratives. Highly inspired by Victorian photography trends and vintage imagery, Benz and Chang paints spiritual figures cohorting with the living, merging the planes of life and death. A deep connection is established between his sitters, adapting the paranormal into the normal. Levitation, anthropomorphic shadow and wrapped figures extend a supernatural bridge to the viewer, connecting us to secret spaces and transforming memories of the deceased into tangible presences. Benz and Chang’s paintings serve as a channel to extend emotions of comfort and acceptance towards the more challenging and darker aspects of life. His motifs of verisimilitude suggest an overlapping of timelines and planes of existence beckoning the viewer to reconsider their own perspectives and realities. ARTIST STATEMENT Benz & Chang believe that the arts make the world a better place through shared experience and mutual understanding. The Benz & Chang paintings are “fake vintage photos” rendered with watercolor and/or walnut ink. They are dreamlike and figurative. Most of the paintings appear to be photos from the early 20th century, and they reward a second or third look with details that can be easy to miss. Figures appear with twins, crowns, wings, ghost limbs, halos, odd lights and shadows. Using this imagery, Benz and Chang explore transformative life experiences such as facing fear, making life-changing decisions, grieving losses, having mystical experiences, or confronting mortality. Says Benz, “I see myself as a channel. My job is to align myself with a larger creative impulse, and also with the painting itself. I must add that I rarely do this perfectly. During the various steps of making a painting, I will “see” something that belongs in the painting, and so I will add it. If the decision-making process breaks down, I consult a Magic 8-Ball for direction. The resulting paintings are dreamlike.” BIOS Benz began having experiences with spirits and hauntings at an early age. These experiences have continued throughout his life. They have fueled his interest in dreams, ghosts, and clairvoyance from all angles, including the fictional, real, fraudulent, or imagined. Benz grew up in the American Southwest, and now enjoys living in the (haunted) Pacific Northwest. He has an extensive collection of odd photos from the early 20th century. Benz has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Chang is a fictional photography studio partner to Benz. He is a stuffed cat of the stuffed animal variety (not the taxidermy variety). Chang supplies the dark.