© Ben Browton 2020

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The work of Ben Browton features a predominately orange and black colour scheme, conceived in 2009, a dialectic that allows for a playful range of themes and symbols within the practice, and which produces an hermetic world similar to that using corporate colours, or the recognisable strips of football teams.

 

The work draws on elements from commercial packaging, signage, typography, graphic art and traditional religious iconography. The use of decals (as used in commercial production) is important, as in Dervish 2012, where message is conveyed by means of text applied to the figure, and in Hazard 2009-11 where the added text 'CATALYST' echoes the central element, which was taken from a commercial cardboard packing box. The number 6, which appears in this work, is re-worked and repeated in the later works: 6 Grace and Homage to the six. Text is therefore often an integral part of the works, supporting or subverting the concept of the piece.  

A wide variety of materials and techniques are used, each specific for the job in hand, and sometimes found objects are incorporated, objects that spark a train of evocative responses in the artist and add visual charge to the work. Kalimbah 2010-11 features just such a found object, that was subsequently decorated, played and recorded and in an extended narrative, two protective wooden cases were constructed to elevate the Kalimbah to the status of "precious object", mimicking the crating of artworks in the commercial sphere.

 

There are allusional cultural references at play that comment tangentially on and hint at the current zeitgeist, whilst at the same time retaining a distance from the explicit “here and now”.  Intersection 2017 features the classic signage for male and female, but is taken out of a "real world" context, and re-presented as sculptural form. The title utilises a word that has established itself in our vocabulary, and which realistically challenges the status quo.

 

More recent work has also reflected a visit to Japan in 2017 and how this has instigated an ongoing inquiry, via a Japanese interlocuter, into the history and contemporary culture of the country and of the language, and how elements such as humour, current trends and commercial advertising intersect across national boundaries. This influence can be seen in ABSOLUTE TERRITORY 2017, お歯黒 2017, Marusan 2018 and Mantra 2018-19. Oracle 2019-20 reflects an ongoing conceptual relationship with a street shrine seen and photographed in Kyoto in 2017, now mashed up with an idea for a rather arcane item of signage. Central to the work is the kanji ⎡夢⎦, which represents a dream or dreaming. The work Turbine 2020 features the kanji⎾縁⎦or fate, and the words "Wheel Of Fortune". This work asks a question of the viewer about what forces influence our everyday lives in a hoped-for rational and smooth running existence.