BEN SLEDSENS, Painter
A fictitious universe
Answers from Ben Sledsens (Antwerp, Belgium)
Tell us who you are.
I’m a painter, born in 1991. I’m based in Antwerp, Belgium, a small city where a lot of things are happening. We have a great art and fashion scene. It has a very central position in Europe, it’s close to many big cities. It also has a very rich history. A lot of big names from art history were based in Antwerp, like Pieter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dijck, … But also contemporary artists like Kati Heck, Rinus Van de Velde and Luc Tuymans and fashion designers like Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Raf Simons, and many others.
What’s your style of painting?
I have a very narrative style of painting. The stories I tell have an open beginning and ending. I like it when the viewer can compose their own stories from my paintings. I also like to explore traditional subjects of paintings and translate it to my own personal visual language. I don’t believe everything has been said and done in painting. With my paintings I made a fictitious universe where elements from my personal life intertwine with fantasy and references to art history. I’m very inspired by among others Henri Matisse, Henri Rousseau and Claude Monet, but also by nature, my life, my friends, moments and images that circle around the internet.
How are you doing today?
I’m fine, thank you. At the moment I’m showing new work at the groupshow The Last Waltz (For Leon) at Tim Van Laere Gallery and Salon de Peinture at M HKA. Three months ago I had a soloshow at Tim van Laere Gallery and my first monography was published simultaneously. In 2020 I will present new work at my soloshow at Tim Van Laere in his new gallery space they are currently building. The gallery space is designed by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen and will open in April 2019. I’m already thinking about the show as it takes a while to paint an entire show.
What’s your favorite color and why?
I think I have many favourite colors. Colour is also a very important aspect of my works. The trick is how to combine them. For instance, I don’t particularly like the color purple. I wouldn’t immediately pick purple to paint, but sometimes it is exactly the right colour for the painting.
What would you like to paint other than your canvas?
I believe canvas works the best for the stories I want to tell. The canvas offers me a kind of freedom where I can do whatever I want. The white canvas is the most difficult and confronting part of my painting process but also presents the most possibilities. There will always be the possibility to explore other materials, such as bronze, ceramics, wallpaintings, …
Why is being creative the best job in the world?
I don’t know if being creative is the best job in the world. Painting can also be very lonely. To finish a painting and to see it exhibited is one of the best feelings there is. It feels like I created something unique and completely my own. Something that has the capability of becoming immortal.
Photograph + Interview: Christian Ruess #christianruess
All paintings: courtesy Tim van Laere Gallery, Antwerp