I have been making pictures—as drawings, prints and oil paintings—all my life. I have worked mainly as a realist, occasionally as an abstractionist, and sometimes as an expressionist. I've painted portraits for hire, cityscapes, landscapes, seascapes and many pictures that were just conjured out of my head.

         There is a long-established convention in art that a painter should work to a theme and develop some consistent, recognizable style. The presumption being, I suppose, that it is only through such a focused, repetitive discipline that a coherent or mature artistic statement might emerge. I don't know if I entirely believe that or not. What is clear, however, is that doing things in this way makes it far easier for curators, gallerists and the public to categorize and draw uniform critical, commercial or even taste-based assumptions about what that work is, and how we all should feel about it.  

          I've certainly done things in that accepted way at times, but my whole body of work over the past 40 years has been far from uniform. Like many artists, I'll work for a period in some particular style, tackling a single kind of subject through a series of like images. But when that run of pictures feels exhausted, I usually move on to something different. For years I separated these disparate series into categories, only exhibiting or publishing one kind or style at a time. 

          Lately, I have become more interested in looking at all my work as a whole, as all the pictures I make are only different aspects of the one thing that interests me most. At heart, what I love best about making pictures is the surface created by oil paint layered on its ground (or the effect of charcoal or ink or pencil on white paper), and the way in which the authority with which the material was laid down becomes an analog of the authority of a lived experience. As time goes on, I am tending more and more to adopt whatever pictorial or compositional language feels most appropriate to the picture at hand. I only expect these things to be looked at one at a time in any case; so in that sense it hardly matters if they look alike. All that counts to me is that they should be good pictures—which is to say: they should be pictures that you want to look at. 

          I’ve made about 500 oil paintings in my life, and a great many drawings and prints. A few of my favorite ones are here on this website. It's a mixed bag of imagery to be sure—all these things are quite different from one another. And yet, they are also somehow all the same.


—Christopher Benson