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Ben Reeves: Going into Detail

Ben Reeves Untitled, Detail (beyond me/the earth will roll in the heavens) 2010 Courtesy Equinox Gallery

William Blake’s ideal of innocence was to see eternity in a grain of sand. Painter Ben Reeves, in a much more sobering and contemporary, if still curiously romantic, gesture, sees eternity—or, at least, countless layers of meaning—in the smallest details of painting itself. Known for his myopic reproductions of brushstrokes, sometimes of those belonging to famous painters like Tom Thomson and Bruegel, Reeves currently presents a new suite of works at Vancouver’s Equinox Gallery with cryptic, poetic names like Untitled, Detail (beyond me/the earth will roll in the heavens) and Untitled, Detail (what we want and what we get).


This time, Reeves’ works are self-deconstructing, showing variously scaled sections of field sketches that he has created. The result is, in part, a study in optics. Like smoke in a previous Reeves series, the raindrop forms the motif of this show, present even in the more representational work. In the Detail paintings, seemingly abstract clusters of broad strokes are actually Reeves’ accurate close-ups of the drops on his field sketches, with noticeable tones of blue (which suggest sky), green (which suggest grass) and pink (which suggest some of his human figures). Of course, raindrops—very Vancouver, which is where Reeves is from—also play their own painterly tricks, inverting the scenes they reflect like a camera obscura, and thus suggesting the title of the show, “everyday hallucinatory.” (2321 Granville St, Vancouver BC)


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