Ben Spiers' hyperrealist paintings are fictions created by combining a sophisticated array of Western and non-Western sources: a Japanese woodcut, Roman portrait bust or the pages of Vogue may all inform his re-imagined portraits.
As Spiers has explained: For me art is about one's immersion in culture. There is a choice about the nature of this immersion, about how one responds to precedents and propositions. So much is compelling that it's limiting to be aligned to a single current. I want to extract what's useful to me. So it's a combined vision. This collaging of elements is, for me, the point of creativity. I seek to bring together, seamlessly, different philosophical as well as visual traditions to create something newexploring the rupture between inner experience and outer representation. I love the idea that I can take a body that is absolutely burdened by a kind of overwhelming corporeality and yet simultaneously invest it with an empathic, complex, perhaps even beautiful inner life. Ben Spiers, interview, December 2010
The paintings of Ben Spiers inhabit a world in which the smooth aesthetic of Photoshop replaces the dislocated collage of cut-up and repainted imagery: a time in which music may be seamlessly sampled, without jerks and scratches, and an age when a fashion model is photo-shopped to improve complexion, remove wrinkles, increase curves, decrease cellulite and this is accepted, visually, as accurate, not as distortion. Precedents for this type of painting include Francis Picabia with his engagement with kitsch, Francis Bacon with his appropriation of film and photography, John Currin's peculiar physiognomical distortion and Glenn Brown's admiration for science fiction. Yet Ben Spiers' painting has a peculiarity that is all his own. Superficially this is simply the result of his own particular tastes and the specific sources that he has appropriated, but more deeply it is to do with the way in which he has transfigured and transposed these various sources.
Ben Spiers is represented by James Hyman Fine Art.