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Paul Benney is a multi-disciplined artist whose oeuvre moves beyond clear and definitive categorization although his work could be seen to continue the strong tradition of ‘British Mysticism’ championed by the likes of Samuel Palmer and William Blake. Clearly, the primary mode of expression is paint, which he handles with profound technical dexterity, but to add to this he is also a goldsmith (skills learned from his father, the celebrated goldsmith Gerald Benney), a sculptor, film maker, a musician and also a perfumer, all of which he is able to carry out with notable esoteric ability and accomplishment. He is a polymath - a modern Renaissance Man. Marcus Aurelius once stated that:
“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”
But the tangibility of technique is only one face; the artist must also have a passion to use the senses to delve into the unsolved.
For the past thirty years Paul Benney has worked both in the United States and United Kingdom. His paintings are notably represented in a plethora of public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The National Gallery of Australia and The National Portrait Gallery in London, alongside many prominent private and corporate collections. In 2017 his epic painting and holophonic sound installation ‘Speaking in Tongues’ is on show at Chiesa San Gallo as part of the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Some works also take influence from closer to home sources - specifically the artist Peter Lanyon, in particular his work ‘The Yellow Runner’ from 1946. Lanyon painted this having just returned home to St Ives. It is warm, energetic and joyful and Bassett felt an immediate connection. His most recent works imbue a celebratory connection to his home – the sea and landscape; as well his community and heritage.
Bassett has been a lecturer at Truro Penwith College since 2011 and also leads experimental drawing classes and artist workshops at The Exchange and Newlyn Art Gallery. Bassett founded LETH projects - a curatorial platform for emergent arts and he is a participant in the arts collective TAP and BUCCA Gallery, Newlyn. He has recently been elected as a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists and has exhibited at a number of well-known galleries in Cornwall and has been a part of a number of exhibitions in London and the Home Counties. His paintings and illustrations have been used in many different contexts including music album covers, artist led exhibitions and public art projects.