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Benjamin Heller: Echo and Convergence

Art Scene

Benjamin Heller: Echo and Convergence

A vibrant sensuality and quietude reverberates from the photographs of Benjamin Heller in his most recent exhibition at Robin Rice Gallery. Stunning borderless black and white photographs, presented without glass in thick black frames, meld into black painted walls, minimizing any distraction that might take viewers away from the work. The exhibition, titled, Benjamin Heller: Echo and Convergence, presents works that elegantly express the interrelationship of man, water, sky, wildlife and nature in a uniquely poetic voice.

Installation View – Photo: Anders Jones

Heller’s images reflect the entirety of his artistic practice as a photographer, performer and sculptor. The handful of photos that include a human figure are actually self portraits of Heller selected from the series “The Long Walk: Analog Narratives.” The portraits occupy a space somewhere between a candid portrait, studio portrait and environmental portrait. Heller’s performative presence in the images presents moments that feel like extended experiences.

In many cases Heller’s body seems as a sculpture. In, Fall, the intentionality of Heller’s straight legs, outstretched hands, and pointed toes reflects the stasis of sculpture, while the reflected light and curvature of his upper torso speak to performance – perhaps dance. His closed eyes and serene expression add to the sense of falling reflected in streams of vertical light wafting down from the top edge of the photograph. A dense blackness fills in the remainder of the image acting as a frame within a frame.

Benjamin Heller, Fall – Photo: Anders Jones

In another photograph, Drift, Heller lays perfectly appointed across the bench of a rowboat lulling in open waters. Asleep, dreaming, or perhaps just resting, his body’s folds seem to have found and ideal position of comfort. Heller’s languid left arm effortlessly resting on the bench presents a sure sign of inner calm and peace. The image’s subtle use of depth of field rendering the right side slightly blurred adds a final touch to Heller’s narrative of “drifting.”

Benjamin Heller, Drift – Photo: Anders Jones

Heller’s landscape images also read as sensual sculpture, and a consistent poetic syntax reveals a commentary on vastness, line, light and shadow. Images of both sand and sea create the feeling of undulating waves and hills. The images also simultaneously reveal the details of organic forms of windswept sand and sea foam through Heller’s consistent use of formal qualities. Images of sky, also built around these qualities, take full advantage of the juxtaposition of light and dark through cloud formations refracting sunlight and slices of open sky.

Installation View – Photo: Anders Jones

Heller’s choice of black and white photography shapes and focuses his storytelling, allowing him to share a deep sense of calm and pleasure in the acts of both looking and being. It’s as if his work, along with its installation, seamlessly invites the current moment of the viewer into the vastness of his experiences.

Benjamin Heller: Echo and Convergence is on view through February 26, 2017.