ANDRE BENOIT (American b.1 -)
I am not entirely aware of the origin of my aesthetic curiosity, but I have long been deeply motivated to capture and represent what I feel and see when I am visually stimulated by my surroundings. I suspect it lies somewhere between my mother’s quiet ease in outwardly enjoying even the most subtle elements of natural beauty around her and my father’s near-systematic and sometimes-stubborn ability to compliment color and style having, himself, been a career clothier. It seems every bend in the road affords me an opportunity for visual distraction.
With orderliness not being a priority, entropy has often been incorporated intentionally or found its way into in my recent foray in wooden sculpture assemblage—often eliminating the fixed focal points of my earlier dry-brush watercolor and, in the past two decades, my work with oil and acrylic renderings. In this new, physical, and dimensional medium, I have renewed and invigorated my artistic drive. Wood remnants, flotsam and jetsam from the shoreline, trim-work from renovated homes, and broken and discarded furniture—what I most enjoy about my work with salvaged materials are the stories behind my acquisition of them, and the opportunity to meld unrelated pieces into a composition that commands a second look.
Being drawn to deep contrast in pigmentary value, the juxtaposition of divergent shapes and forms, and the lucid embodiment of complex subjects, I construct.
I attended a high school with a reputation of emphasizing the classics and that made no effort to broaden its curriculum to include any type of instruction in art to soften the emphasis on the dying language, Latin. It was not until I attended college that I had an awakening to a growing visual orientation that seem to advance exponentially during my freshman year. Slowly I mastered perspective and without a curriculum in color, I intuitively became comfortable with color compatibility and composition, spending little time in trying to represent realism, believing that less detail evoked a mood response from the viewer not dissimilar to the effect of a paucity of words in a poets verse. Embracing the ideology that less is more would appear critical to inviting readers and viewers of art to alternate interpretation of what often is intentional ambiguity of meaning or artistic purpose.
My early paintings were primarily dry brush watercolor still preferred by friends and family over my recent work in oil and acrylic. In my professional life as a physician I had the fortune of living in a primarily marine oriented community which provided work for many skilled ships carpenters as well as a vacation destination for many third and fourth generation families occupying turn-of-the-century cottages stressed by strong wind and repetitive wetting and drying requiring the need for replacement of porch trim and other ornamental details of Victorian cottage architecture. The discarding of these wooden pieces led to my collection of them and subsequently, the assemblages followed.
Although it is easy to comment on what my intent was with each piece that I complete, I prefer to tell of the circumstances surrounding the acquiring of the composite pieces as many come from interesting circumstances, occurrences and human interaction as well as often from viewer unrecognized prior use or purpose.
1970 -1973 University of New Hampshire studied under John Laurent and John Hatch as Art Minor
1974 pursued water color as medium with restaurant exhibition in the coming of age Old Port District in Portland Maine
1974-1978 University of Cincinnati Medical School student. Watercolor remains medium of expression though limited to vacation and increasing limited opportunity in academic Schedule.
1978-1981 Maine-Dartmouth Family Practice resident, Augusta, Maine. On call schedule remarkably reasonable and allowed for continued refinement of watercolor technique.
1981-2015 Family Practitioner Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Preferred medium evolves to use of oil paint on gessoed board after being given a wet palette my brother Peter had finished with and finding a freedom and comfort in the plein air setting previously not experienced at that level with watercolor. Peter who also had minored in art at Bowdoin College studying under Joseph Nicoletti remains my most strident critic turning paintings to the wall that he is unapproving of.
2014-present Although living in coastal Maine where cottage renovation and wooden boat building is carried on year round and what is not reused or discarded after being altered by blade to router bit, available in the transfer / recycling domain of this region, I was late to recognize the ready availability of a resource that has fueled a pension for 3 dimensional assemblage sculpture. Equally available has been drawers from desks and bureaus for one reason or another finding their way to the woodpile at the transfer station. When it is possible to salvage these before they are broken down by heavy equipment and sent to the chipper, I have cut them down on a table saw to a 2 inch depth and use that as a template for what is assembled within.