Benjamin Degen: Last Refuge

2 Feb 2018 – 10 Mar 2018

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Susan Inglett Gallery is pleased to present “Last Refuge,” an exhibition of new paintings by gallery artist Benjamin Degen


“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” -Samuel Johnson, 1775

“Brothers… a hundred thousand perils you have passed and reached the West. For us, so little time remains to keep the vigil of our living sense. Do not deny your will to win experience, behind the sun, of worlds where no man dwells. Hold clear in thought your seed and origin. You were not made to live as mindless brutes, but go in search of virtue and true knowledge”
-Ulysses in Dante’s Inferno Canto XXVI

“The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance.”
-International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V, regulation 33 (1)

“I take refuge in the buddha. I take refuge in the dharma. I take refuge in the sangha.”
-The Three Refuges of Buddhist faith

We are all immigrants.
To be human is to move.
We had to move to get here.
We have to move to keep going.
We must move to become who we will be.
We are all moving from here to there.
We are a sea of humanity that flows as a contiguous mass in waves and tides. We flow across the entire earth: up to the tops of mountains; we fill the valleys; we wash onto the shores of the most remote islands. The salty blood within us, and our life itself, flows as a current in one unending ocean that cannot be confined by geography or boundary.
My story of movement is not my own, and it is not only the story of my family moving before me, but it is also the story of all of the people who moved with them. It is a story of the refuge that was given to us and the refuge that we gave.
Each of our lives is a story of compassion and bravery- a story of the people who worked to rescue and refuge and to free each other.
Freedom cannot be experienced individually; it must be achieved and experienced collectively.
We must move together.

I painted these paintings in celebration of human movement. I painted these paintings in a moment of great division. But this is also a moment where we are empowered to make a choice: As a species, we can move together toward collective liberation, or move against each other on a path towards self-annihilation. 

“Little bit from you / And a little bit from me / Simple as it gets / We set each other free.”
-Jeff Tweedy/Mavis Staples Little Bit Anti Records 2017

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Benjamin Degen


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