Ben Fenske (b. 1978) although a native of Minnesota, and has been working and living in Sag Harbor, New York and Florence, Italy for the last 7 years. An oil painter in the spirit of the 19th and 20th century impressionists, he often chooses informal and contemporary scenes with an implied narrative. His work, which features brash and suggestive brushstrokes, delights in light and color and is regularly exhibited in shows across the US. Fenske has been the subject of countless national articles, notably the American Artist Magazine which included him as one of the Best 25 Living Artists in 2012.
Russian Academy of Art
Florence Academy of Art
Studio of Joseph Paquet, Minnesota
Bougie Studio, Minnesota.
BP Portrait Award 2016 Exhibited Artist
2007 - 2016: Solo Show, Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor NY
2014: Solo Show, Grenning Gallery @ The Union League Club, Sept 2014, NYC
2013: "Green Noise" Group Show, Open Air Invitational at Plyos Museum, Ivanovo Region of Russia, sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Culture
2012: Catalina: The Wild Side Art Show and Sale
2011: Christies Auction House, March & September, NYC
2006: Group Show, Eleanor Ettinger Gallery, NYC
2006: Group Show, Ann Long Fine Art, Charleston, SC
2005 - Present, annually: Florence Academy of Fine Art, Alumni Exhibtion
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Four Painters a Sculptor and a Photographer at Sag Harbors Grenning Gallery
Works on Paper Opens at Grenning Gallery
Ben Fenske: 6 Basics of Landscape Painting
The Interior & Figurative Work of Ben Fenske: A Critical Look at Raw Talent
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Personal Connections: This Long Island Collection Boasts Paintings the Collectors Buy With Their Hearts.
Fenske, hunger for creative knowledge continues to push him into new realms of study. Sparked by his in depth study of the anatomy at the Russian Academy of Art, Fenske was motivated to take his understanding of form and break away from the two-dimensional. Fenske makes his sculptural début with “Wild Boar,” a collaborative piece made along side his friend and fellow artist, Richard Zinon. This life sized bronze not only captivates the viewer with its muscular build and wild energy but also represents what is sure to be the first of many sculptural undertakings by Fenske. For a view of this amazing process watch: http://vimeo.com/67850415
In “Ben Fenske: Recent Paintings” we exhibit a series of powerful interiors in addition to his strong body of plein air landscapes and portrait heads. Fenske’s trademark brush strokes, which are bold and unfussy yet accurate in tone and color, show even more confidence this year. These paintings mark a turn toward more psychological subjects, adding a somewhat more serious tone to his oeuvre. Notable amongst these strong interiors is “The Break Up”. This nearly 3 x 4 foot painting has it’s sorrowful subject, with her head buried in her crossed arms, slumped over a table, which is ironically draped in the Florentine color of rebirth, lavender. The extra chair at the table raises a question. Could the chair be for the recently departed mate, or perhaps for someone to console her? The anxiety of the subject is countered by the joyous play of color and light warming the scene. “My Room”, 31 ½ x 39 ½ inches, is another intimate view of a private space, evoking sanctity and solace, with the archetypal Vermeer juxtaposition of light flooding in from a un shuddered window in the upper left hand of the painting. “Cary’s World” recalls some of the great impressionist works of the 19th century, while depicting a contemporary expatriate’s apartment in Florence.
In this solo show of recent works, Ben Fenske’s promise of years passed has come to fruition, as fleeting sketches have become fully finished large canvases. Fenskes work has become richer, more colorful, and most importantly, the compositions have become more resolved. As you can see by the interiors, landscapes, and figurative paintings, Fenske continues to be inspired by the world that he inhabits. From an abstract lavender hued “Spring Still Life” to the elegantly reflective “Open Window”, Fenske’s paintings continue to mesmerize us.
Fenskes solo show is rich in color and variety, as always, but with an added heft this year, as we unveil his largest painting to date. Inspired by a visit to Plastovs studio, a 20th century Russian artist in Moscow last September, Fenske painted the physical and emotional anchor to this show, the glorious figurative work “Florence, Olive Tree” which is 67 x 79 inches. This scale of the painting is rarely seen from these classically trained contemporary realists. Fenske was invited to Russia by the Minister of Culture to join notable Russian painters on a plein air painting trip. After researching his interest in the Russian painters, we have a newfound respect for Fenskes role in this Poetic Realist movement.
Ben Fenske (b. 1978) is hitting another level in his work this year, with two distinct series of paintings. His muse and girlfriend, Beatrice Champ is featured in a spectacular series of nude and semi- nude paintings. One can follow this intense and talented artist from a smaller sketch inspired by interesting light, as seen in Blue Light Nude to the fully finished and large composition Drying Hair. Like a complete symphony, this series of ten paintings has bright movements, somber notes and exuberance. Overall, the Bea Nudes leave us thrilled to show his work, and delighted to help him with his dedicated research into beauty.
Clearly motivated by his new surroundings, there is also series of paintings created in and around his new home in Chianti. Following on from last years hugely successful luncheon painting, Fenske painted Summer Afternoon which depicts his friends in a flickering mid-summer Tuscan light. Its an effective multi figure composition AND a beautiful ebullient work of art. There are several paintings of the laundry on line, which edge towards abstraction as he revisits the subject a third and fourth time. Several florals from these at home paintings knock on Van Gogh and Cezannes door, but remain Fenskes through and through.
As Fenske approaches the end of his thirties, his career is continuing to catch the eye of important institutions, having been selected to show at the National Portrait Gallery in London this summer as part of the BP Portrait Award contest. Later this year, the Grenning Gallery, with Fenskes guidance and leadership, is hosting 4 of Russias most notable painters on a plein air painting foray to Maine and the Hamptons in October. He has also invited several important American painters to join the group. This trip will culminate in a big show on November 6th.