Like the suburbs, the paintings can be characterized by constant transitions and shifting contexts. A feeling of precariousness and disconnectedness is pervasive in spite of possibly friendly and familiar trappings. TREE STREETS
presents imagery (often homes, telephone poles, tree lines, strolling figures) and abstract painting structures that are constructed and dismantled throughout the painting process. The sense of dislocation that Benedict creates in the work is an apt point of entry, and is seen both as a representation of physical spaces apart from others – the city’s outskirts, the public park, and the artist’s studio, for example - and as a psychological state.
Another point of departure for the work is the genre of landscape painting, which often proposes a shared point of view between the viewer and the artist, and seeks to offer a welcoming expanse of illusionistic depth to be surveyed. TREE STREETS presents a vision of the landscape genre that does not provide this traditional entry point. Instead, these paintings look to create a dialogue between familiarity and uncertainty, as layers of paint simultaneously obscure what was previously legible and coalesce into new arrangements.
TREE STREETS connects to the artist’s biography and find him interpreting his newfound life in suburbs in a way that is both critical and empathetic. He writes:
“I live in a suburban town outside of Philadelphia and, specifically, in a section of that town they call the tree streets. Most cities and towns have an area like this - Maple Lane, Pine Road, Beech Street. I happened to arrive at the tree streets. Like many folks who wind up living in the suburbs, it was a practical fit more than an aspiration. The idea of arriving somewhere or arriving at something is important to the paintings.”
“As I find it now, the suburban experience is dream-like and hallucinatory. I am outside of it and simultaneously in it. The place presents aesthetic pockets and disconnected leaps in time and form (just like Robert Smithson’s Passaic, NJ). It is full of competing foci and all stages of natural life and synthetic process. The lawns of the tree streets feature signs that read “Hate has no home here” as well as an occasional MAGA banner. There is an elementary school in the heart of the neighborhood and a massive retirement home that looms on its boundary. Some streets have no streetlights and walking the dogs late at night is a voyeuristic fantasy. The paintings in TREE STREETS aren’t literal depictions of these experiences, but they are connected to and derived from them.”