Melbourne based artist, writer and free verse poet Benjamin Box is an anathema. Or at least that’s what he believes his latest art buyer thinks of him.
After commissioning his latest work: ‘Forbid Yourself Nothing.’, a large size spray paint and acrylic on canvass; the buyer in question: …”ran for the hills upon completion of the work and didn’t even have the manners to sling me a modest materials fee.”
I thought it may have been a case of sour grapes until Ben showed me the two ‘test prints’ or ‘studies’ he’d sent the buyer before commencing the final picture.
“There’s a special place in hell for buyers like that.” he informed me.
Not only did this buyer refuse to return his phone calls or honour their ‘gentleman’s handshake agreement’, she also blocked him from all her social media.
“It was a blow to my confidence sure, but the fact that this particular person didn’t like my painting lets me know that I’m on the right track.” he responded.
Forbid Yourself Nothing by artist Benjamin Box. image © Kerrie Pacholli
Educated at Caulfield Grammar and RMIT, Benjamin has led an unusual life. A 12 year veteran of the advertising industry as a copywriter that took him to Singapore and New York, he’s had a series of unusual jobs since. His most recent employment was as a litter-bin collector/truck jockey (or garbo) for the Port Phillip Council. This gave him his afternoons to paint, as his hours were 5.30am to 12.30pm.
Benjamin’s time at the council led him to become an avid collector of recycled canvasses. “Many canvasses I find, I just paint over the top of whatever’s on them – I’m one garbo that’s taking out the trash of the art world” he mused.
“After feeling like an ideas machine on the blink, I exited advertising like a falling meteorite only to crash-land hard on the hazy art world.” On this ‘hazy art-world’, he’s held a weekly residency at a St Kilda nightspot “…preaching and caterwauling my tortured & feverish words”. “It was a good discipline for me, I had to write something good enough to perform every week.”
He’s recently teamed up with a musician of some note that “at this stage must remain nameless” for a spoken word project. The short snippets I was permitted to hear worked well. The haunting drone of his mystery musician’s moody, movie-score style music compliments Ben’s dry voice and darkly ironic lyrics. To be launched in “the next few months”, the ‘working title’ is: “And that’s what he said”. I recommend that you look out for their debut gigs.
Like many artists, Ben prefers not to overtly talk about or post justify his work (“show, don’t tell” is one of his mantras). However, I did manage to cajole this from him on his most recent painting titled ‘Forbid Yourself Nothing.’
“As the quote suggests, the picture is about our vices and that fine line that separates the recreational from the habitual user of drugs or other toxic habits.”
When asked if he’d used drugs, partaken in bad habits and was exorcising his own demons in his work he playfully replied: ”…well, no civilised man regrets a pleasure.”
His previous painting “Ghost Gun On Canvass” was a mixture of an original poem “…about a guy that walks home one night and kills himself for no reason”, with type justified into a ghostly image of a hand holding a gun. These are also on sale in a limited number.
Whilst unconventional and highly confrontational, Ben has certainly made an impact in the art world. Many of his paintings have rumoured to have sold for six figure sums.
“To be honest, I just started doing the paintings to make a little extra cash on the side and it all just took off from there.”
Well, love him or hate him, his current work “Forbid Yourself Nothing.” is now on the market, most likely to be auctioned at Christies.
Ben is available for commissioned artwork. You can contact him on: 0401 216 199 for a no obligation meeting.
Of course, let’s hope that you, too, don’t end up in that special place in hell for naughty buyers that Ben talks about.
Ghost Gun by artist Benjamin Box. Image © Kerrie Pacholli