James Benjamin Franklin new work at Reyes | Finn Detroit

Reyes | Finn presents Practice, the gallery’s third solo exhibition of work by Detroit-based artist James Benjamin Franklin, which will be on view from January 15th–February 26th, 2022.

Since the completion of his MFA five years ago, James Benjamin Franklin has worked to challenge the material and spatial limitations of painting. The artist has become known for creating vibrant, high-energy paintings anchored  within hand-built, instinctively-shaped, plaster-sculpted frames. Painting with vernacular materials, the artist intricately binds found textiles such as carpets, afghans, bathroom mats, and kitchen rags, with epoxy, acrylic, rubber, sand and glitter in order to create complex, layered, sumptuous surfaces that feel equally as familiar as they do foreign.

The selection of materials in order to evoke a time and place plays a key role in Franklin’s process. Though some of the items are bought new, many come from the artist’s own home or are otherwise sourced from thrift stores in Detroit, imbuing the artworks with a sense of local history and personal memory. The resulting paintings invite a meditative look at the textures, colors, and forms as they stir up subjective and sensorial associations.

Presenting nine new paintings measuring over six feet tall, the exhibition marks a major progression in the artist’s practice as he reveals his most detailed and compositionally complex works to date. The exhibition’s title takes into consideration Franklin’s work as a skilled profession as well as an ongoing experience of learning, thereby offering the opportunity to contemplate this presentation in both of these contexts. 

“James’s paintings are a perfect balance. Each work is composed of endless decisions and handmade moves by the artist that result in an undeniably refined finished work. His color choices are daring and bold, his textures absorb and reflect light allowing the paintings to dance off the wall,” Reyes | Finn Partner Bridget Finn said. “Each time James makes a work, there exists a moment when he relinquishes control to the painting itself. The scale of his paintings bewitches the senses, evoking memories of jewel tone ceramic tiles that line the walls of Detroit’s historical buildings or the once glittering paint job of a classic car rolling down the street. Through textural ambiguity and gestural abstraction, he paints liberally and generously, creating alchemical transformations that defy spatial, temporal, and material constraints.”

James Benjamin Franklin, Recur, 2022. Acrylic, fabric, sand, plaster and epoxy on extruded polystyrene. 76 ½ x 71 x 3 inches (194 x 180 x 8 cm). Courtesy: the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.
James Benjamin Franklin, Recur, 2022. Acrylic, fabric, sand, plaster and epoxy on extruded polystyrene. 76 ½ x 71 x 3 inches (194 x 180 x 8 cm). Courtesy: the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

About the Artist

JAMES BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (b. 1972, Tacoma, WA) is an American painter of Filipino and German descent based in Detroit, MI.

Franklin received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in 1999, and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2017. Franklin’s artistic influences include Shirley Jaffe, Thornton Dial, Richard Diebenkorn, Alexander Calder and Agnes Martin among others.

Recent exhibitions include A Layered Approach, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY, Whole in the Dust at Reyes | Finn, Detroit, MI; and FRONT International, The Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH.

About the Gallery

REYES | FINN (est. 2017) is a contemporary art gallery in Detroit, MI. Reyes | Finn reveals multiple exhibitions a year dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists. It is with such presentations that the gallery seeks to reveal a profile both internationally renowned and regional in dialogue. Collaborating with artists, patrons and institutions alike, the gallery hopes to continue to diversify and strengthen Detroit’s arts community.

REYES | FINN is located at 1500 Trumbull Avenue, Detroit, MI 48216
Open Wednesday–Saturday, 12pm–6pm
Telephone: +1 (248) 839-5342

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