Benjamin Spark reflects on the concept of characters and roles within modern society. Spark’s work are masterpieces of deconstruction. He decontextualizes well-known characters of comic books and cinema material by placing them against colorful, contrasting backdrops.Benjamin Spark plays with these images, juxtaposing several, non-related figures on one canvas, while also cutting out, overlapping or covering parts of them. Despite these disfigurations and the omission of their respective context, however, the characters remain recognizable.
Benjamin Spark draws upon the viewers’ background knowledge of pop culture, comics, manga and animated movies. In this sense, Spark’s representation of these figures comments on the role they play in Western and Eastern societies. People are fascinated by the stories in which recurrent characters play leading roles. The characters are powerful icons of storytelling, remnants of our childhood, which are tinged with nostalgia and therefore all the more meaningful to the viewer. In Spark’s work, they are, once more, the key storytellers on canvas. Spark relies on them to establish a connection with his viewers. He gives the viewers certain cues which leaves the viewer to fill in the abstract visuals of the background with his or her own imagination. Those with a keen eye for detail will notice that Spark’s exhibition is not a random collection of canvasses, but rather a collection of paintings that are indeed connected to each other. Two paintings, for example, which both depict an oval and a triangle albeit with different backgrounds, are clear inversions of the same composition. When looking more closely, one can distinguish different characters within these works. Are the orange and black details on both canvasses bits and pieces of one and the same figure? Spark requires you to rely on your imagination to “read what you see”. Besides the influence of pointillisme, street art, pop art, comic books, and abstract art on his work, Spark makes a clear reference to optical illusions. Nothing should be taken for granted and this is what makes his collection, as a whole, interesting. Spark juxtapositions different images, but also makes use of different techniques such as painting and computer art, signaling a response to traditional forms of art and the influence of the new age of technology on modern art. Spark’s work, though refreshing, is not unique in its kind.
The fact that Spark leaves his art untitled leaves the viewer to speculate the relation between juxtaposed figures, which sometimes seem to be chosen at random. Benjamin Spark risks depending a bit too much on these characters to convey the story of his work, whereas his own artistic input should always be front and center. Whether his name will still spark a sense of recognition in our minds ten years from now, only time- and the motivations behind his artwork-will tell.