|Instructor / Francisco Benitez|
Francisco Benítez (b. 1967) was raised in New Mexico, New York, and Spain. His mother, a flamenco dancer and choreographer, and his father, a Spanish set designer, influenced his subsequent interest in tenebrist painting and baroque art. Benítez studied Classics at St. John’s College (Santa Fe), and then academic painting techniques and anatomy/figure drawing at the Art Student’s League in New York City. Benítez subsequently obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico, during which time he studied abroad at the Facultad de Bellas Artes in Granada, Spain, through an exchange program, and later did graduate-level independent study.
Benítez lived in Southern France for over four years, during which he participated in a number of museum shows. He exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice, and co-organized, curated, and participated in an exhibition featuring cutting-edge New Mexico artists at the Musée Denys-Puech in Rodez, France. Benítez also had several one-person and group shows in Southern France as well as in Paris.
At present, Benítez divides his time between Europe and Santa Fe. His active exhibition schedule in the US is enhanced by projects in France and Italy. In 2002 he had a one-person exhibition in Messina, Sicily, accompanied by a catalog, as well as another exhibition in 2006 held at the Monastero del Ritiro in Syracuse, Sicily, in conjunction with the Festival of Ancient Greek Theatre. The exhibition was met with much critical attention and large numbers of visitors. He returned to Sicily to exhibit at Galleria Quadrifoglio in Siracusa and the Capella Bonajuto in Catania in 2008. He then curated a group show with fellow Sicilian artists Michele Ciacciofera and Emilia Faro for the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs in Gordes, France—Occhi: Travaux Récents. This past summer 2009 he exhibited at the Norman Castle at Aci Castello, again in Sicily. He will be participating in several high-profile exhibitions in 2010 such as Imperium, curated by Edward Lucie-Smith, and Ut Pictura Poesis, at the Museo Archeologico di Lipari.
Benitez’ work is included in numerous private collections, some high-profile, such as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s, throughout the United States, as well as in France, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, etc. His work is on permanent display at the New Mexico State Legislature’s public art collection, as well as at the National Hispanic Culture Center and the Conseil Général de l’Aveyron in France. He has lectured on painting of the baroque period, as well as having his work featured on the covers of various books and publications. He is currently working on a project with several prominent Italian and American archaeologists and curators to present a series of imagined recreations of lost Hellenistic painted masterpieces for 2009 in Sicily.
I have been an oil painter throughout my career as an artist, however, upon embarking on a new project called the «Ekphrasis Series», I have begun to experiment with the ancient encaustic technique. An ekphrasis is a description by an ancient author of a painting which no longer exists; as many of the great works of Ancient Greece and Rome have disappeared to the winds of time, all that remains are tantalizing accounts of what these works were, and it is clear that the artists of those times, such as Apelles, Parrhassios, and Zeuxis, mastered light and color as their heirs did, fourteen centuries later, during the Renaissance. I have sought to “re-create” a number of paintings based on certain ekphrases, infusing my sensibilities as a contemporary artist with my knowledge of the ancients.
Encaustic is a particularly challenging, yet beautiful medium, in which to paint. As encaustic is the technique of fused wax, it is one of the most permanent mediums known to us. I use modern versions of ancient heated tools to manipulate the wax on the surface to create painstakingly rendered images, as well as the four-color palette of Apelles (4th century BC), which at first was daunting, but later revealed itself to be very suitable for rendering flesh tones. I have been inspired by the numerous encaustic funerary portraits which have turned up in the Fayum district in Egypt. These extraordinary portraits are oftentimes better preserved than many works from only two centuries ago. They attest to the high level of Greek training many of the local artists received, and are unprecedented in their psychological depth, realism, and evocation of that remote period in time. I have sought to create a number of portrait heads in that spirit of the Fayum works, of contemporary sitters.
Bachelor of Arts of Fine Arts, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 1991. Semester of graduate-level independent study (Painting), University of New Mexico (1992). Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Granada, Spain (1990-1991). New York University, Dept. of Art History (1989). Art Student’s League, New York (1987-1988). St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM (1985-1987).
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2009 “Imago Temporis”, Aci Castello, Italy, curated by Sabina Corsaro.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2009 “Figurations II”, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe.
Collaborated with Nathan Florence for landscape/old masters workshop with Waterford students summer 2006 in Tuscany
Daniela Frisone, “La mostra di F Benitez un gioiso turbamento”, La Sicilia, May 21, 2006.
National Hispanic Cultural Center, Permanent Display, Albuquerque, NM.