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 15 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. Fenske has been the subject of countless national articles, most 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
2020 - Fenske & Friends, Group Show, Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2019 - Corpo a Corpo, Villa Bardini, Florence, Italy
2005 – 2011 Annually: Florence Academy of Fine Art, Alumni Exhibition, Florence Italy
2016, 2018 The Russian American Painting Alliance, Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2017 Dalessio | Fenske | Personett - Gallery Schloss Wiespach, - Hallein, Austria
2016 BP Portrait Award Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London UK & Usher Gallery, Lincoln UK
2014 Solo Show, Grenning Gallery @ The Union League Club, NYC, Sept 2014
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, Catalina Island, California
2011 Christies Auction House, March & September, NYC
2006 Group Show, Eleanor Ettinger Gallery, NYC
Group Show, Ann Long Fine Art, Charleston, SC
American Art Collector, A Colorful World, September 2019
American Art Collector,Personal Connections, October 2016
Fine Art Connoisseur, A Russian Alliance Worth Your Attention, November 2016
Fine Art Connoisseur, Colorful Curves,August 2015
American Art Collector, A Fluid Collection,November 2013
Fine Art Connoisseur, Bottled Magic,August 2013
American Art Collector, Inside Out, August 2013
American Artist, Best 25 Living Artists, September 2012
American Artist, 12 Artists to Watch, December 2011
American Artist, The Interiors and Figurative Work of Ben Fenske: A Critical Look at Raw Talent,December 2010
Workshop, Ben Fenske: Six Basic Tools of Landscape Painting,Winter 2009
Dan’s Papers, The Sag Harbor Express, Hamptons Art Hub, Shelter Island Reporter, Southampton Press, East Hampton Star: various articles 2007-2023
Bottled Magic: Photographing Artists in Their Studios
12 Artists to Follow in 2012
Ben Fenske: 6 Basics of Landscape Painting
Grenning Gallery Showcases Artists New Found Maturity
The Interior & Figurative Work of Ben Fenske: A Critical Look at Raw Talent
Ben Fenske: A Colorful World
Laura Grenning Shares the Magic of Dan's Cover Artist Ben Fenske
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 debut 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 1/2 x 39 1/2 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.
Over the last decade-and-a-half, Ben Fenske (b. 1980) has risen from emerging young painter to a top-selling artist. There’s no question as to why. August 2023 marks his 16th annual Solo Show at Grenning Gallery, and we have never seen such a collection of thoroughly polished large-scale paintings from the now 45-year-old artist. This catalogue features the newest paintings plus the most notable works since 2020. Fenske’s bright yet imposing, clever and expressive style has captivated passersby for years, often stopping them in their tracks. Many of these people quickly vote for Fenske with their dollars, becoming patrons on the spot. It’s no wonder world-renowned art critic and social commentator Anthony Haden-Guest was drawn into the gallery on Fenske’s opening night. Haden-Guest was interested enough to spend a day with Fenske, out painting in Sag Harbor and Shelter Island, to write about his new discovery.
Megan Toy, August 2023