Billy Al Bengston, "It Hit The Fan!" - Press Release
Lala, 1992, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 24" x 28"
BILLY AL BENGSTON
September 28—November 3, 2012
Opening reception: Friday, September 28, 5:00-7:00 PM
Railyard Arts District
544 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
p 505-983-9555 | f 505-983-1284
Billy Al Bengston has been a part of the Venice Beach scene in California since the late 1950s. He was one of the early artists of the important Ferus Gallery along with Ken Price, John Altoon, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Ed Kienholz and Ed Moses. Best known for his various symbols such as sergeant stripes, iris flowers (referred to as Draculas by his friend Ken Price) and anthuriums, which became his personal signatures and characterized his artwork for decades. Bengston started working in clay, but switched to painting on canvas, metal and paper and creating collages. He is a serious artist, but never takes himself too seriously. Focusing on his signature icons creates a readily available device, partly eliminating the need for compositional decisions and allowing him to critically explore painting, while seemingly poking fun at some aspect of contemporary culture or consumerism. Bengston’s art, for the most part, is indescribable and after five decades maybe that has been his grand plan, to keep us guessing and wondering, what is the point—maybe there is no point other than challenging viewers and critics alike to just LOOK, ask a question, but decide for themselves what the message might be. Abstract and colorful, infused with wacky imagery, his art is never slick, maybe a bit irreverent, but always humorous and painterly with brushstrokes, drips, personal touches and a bit of kitsch.