© 2015 Ben Tollefson

I create a painted world informed by the rapidly changing one we live in. Though at first glance the spaces I create are beautiful, a prolonged investigation reveals an uncanny sense of disquiet. My paintings are hyper-colored, constructed environments. Bodies are synthetic, empty, lifeless; trees and shrubs are plastic. This world is rooted in illusionistic, representational elements, yet plays with the viewer’s perception of space. Through a distortion of bodies and uncertainty of spaces, I ask the viewer to reconsider reality.


I push my paintings to an excessive degree of finish, eliminating any trace of brushstroke. Because of this sharpness, the figures and environments become facades, a metaphor for the emptiness of certain aspects of contemporary culture. I use oil painting, a notoriously slow medium to respond to our fast-paced, tech-savvy-or-perish environment. The rapid changes in the ways that we communicate, distraction caused by constant bombardment of ‘realer than real’ screens, or a loss of spirituality are some of the issues informing much of my work. Essentially, I am concerned with what is real in a society in persistent flux, one in which we are increasingly confronted with an excess of simulacra rather than sincere experience.