Ben Crase is one of the most exciting contemporary artists on the landscape today, offering a refreshing perspective. Entirely self-taught, the American figurative painter hails from Butte, Montana. Based in San Diego today, Ben Crase can now be found in Australian galleries too.
Crase uses oil and oil sticks to strike an emotional response in the observer, masterfully blending colour and texture with irregular composition. Drawing on figures from the Old American West, Crase touches on what feels familiar, yet from a bygone era.
Crase is careful not to glorify the figures he depicts, recognising problematic moments within US history. Instead, Crase laments the tumultuous history of his nation. To give a more positive angle to his works, he seeks to depict the “good guys” from the Wild West.
Rather than formal training, Crase obtained his art education by simply visiting museums and galleries. From a young age, this inspired and excited him. Today, he captures the same feeling in his artworks, using bold strokes of colour and deep textures to spark a sense of liveliness.
Crase’s life itself adds an interesting touch to his work. From a deep love of golf to a career as a hairdresser, Crase has developed technique, discipline and attention to detail in a number of different ways. In his words, golf taught him to be calm, focused and present, which allows him to slow down when painting. The eye for detail developed as part of his hairdressing experience also lends itself well to painting, with each and every move being intentional and impactful.
His approach to his work is fuelled by emotion rather than fact. Instead of basing his figurative paintings on a particular person, he seeks to capture a mood in his works instead. Beginning by sketching a figurative pose, he then approaches the face with layers upon layers of face. Once he feels like it means something, whatever “meaning” means to the observer, he puts down the brush.