When you bear witness to one of Benedict Dos Remedios's paintings - it's a hard one to forget. As there is none other, who so seamlessly and effortlessly transpires both the beauty and seduction of an exotic flower quite the way Benedict Dos Remedios does.
And so here, below, Sydney based artist Benedict Dos Remedios talks to us about natural beauty, the entrapments of deception and the Orchid as iconography; all for his new upcoming show, Catfished, opening on Oct 13 at Chalk Horse Gallery.
In your own words, what exactly is it to be Catfished?
To be Catfished is to be deceived by someone... usually over the internet and for the soul purpose of gaining something over their victim, usually money.
In your show, you explore ideas behind deception. How was this later interpreted into your series of paintings?
The paintings are a study of the natural beauty of these exotic orchids and how their patterns and colours have evolved to allure the eye. POV of a Bee #1 is the title of one of the works in the show, the work is a extreme close up of a purple moth orchid which I have painted in a variation of blues. The viewer is now in the shoes of a pollinating insect about to be deceived by a clever flower.
Paintings of Orchids seem to be a recurring theme in your new show. Could you tell us a bit more behind how you came to choosing this flower as iconography?
I first painted orchids back in 2004 for my first ever solo show at the knot Gallery in Surry Hills. I developed that show whilst living in Barcelona. During my time in Spain I really noticed the lack of Asian culture, and I found myself missing that connection that was felt growing up in Sydney, Australia.
I guess the orchid became an icon symbolising the beauty of Asian culture and I think the fascination developed from there. I was back in Barcelona a couple of years ago visiting some very dear family friends. I was sitting in their living room where one of my very first orchid paintings was hung. I reconnected with the image and instantly felt the need to revisit the subject matter in a new way.
Could you tell us about your creative processes, from an idea to its completion?
I work on ideas constantly and often have more than one project going at a time in the studio. Nowadays I find one of the best ways to collect images I like is through Instagram’s browse page. The way the algorithm seems to work, all I see is orchids, indoor plants, art, surfing, 1980-90’s skate boards and butterflies. Once I have an image I want to use, I then make a huge number of print outs of the image in various crops and zoom variations to help find the perfect composition for that piece.
When it comes to applying colour, I take creative license on the image and play with different colour combinations. I usually experiment with colour combinations on smaller pieces of work. Each work is a new experience in how the paint is going to be applied in the first few stages, but by its completion - the top layers are always finished in airbrush and this airbrushing technique a common thread throughout the series.
The final part of the puzzle is the hanging of the show. This series was painted in quite a small studio here in Sydney so I never really get to see all the paintings together until they are all hung at the gallery.
As an artist practicing in 2021, what has been inspiring you, your work and your world?
Lock down has been a challenge when it comes to getting out and finding inspiration but at the same time it’s given me more time to get to the studio and spend time with my family. My wife and I had our third little baby girl close to the start of 2021, so I do find my expanding family as a source of inspiration. I love being creative with my girls and they love to draw and paint and make things. One of the first paintings in this series was inspired by some small works my eldest daughter Kiki and I made... she would scribble and draw all over exhibition press releases and I would paint an orchid over the top of her base layer to create a multilayered image. And of course, nature will always inspire me.
What is next for you in 2022?
More painting, more family time and hopefully a lot more travel at least around Australia and hopefully overseas as well. We are also well over due for a visit back to NYC to see our NYC friends that also became family.
Catfished by Benedict Dos Remedios opens at Chalk Horse on Oct 13 - Nov 14, 2021. More information available on chalkhorse.com.au.