Embodying an aesthetic that is at once retro and futuristic, the work of local artist Sky Benson is electric. Benson has been an artist his whole life, ever since he was a fourth-grader obsessed with Van Gogh. He remembers telling his mother, “‘I wanna be a starving artist when I grow up,’ and I pretty much am,” he said with a laugh.
By day, Benson works as a scenic painter for the film industry. He paints murals and faux finishes for his on-set work, using his creative skills to manifest the backgrounds of some of your favorite television shows.
“There is so much I do not know and I’m so lucky that I was given the opportunity. It’s wild.” The hours are long and the work is challenging, but it is truly a role that suits Benson, who is a creative problem-solver with technical skills that range from large-scale paintings to working with canvas, paper, resin, and even fabric.
The materials and mediums that Benson utilizes are not only varied but also ever-changing and evolving. “Right now I’m focused on wood cuts with resin, last month it was acrylic window film encased in resin on canvas,” explained Benson. “Flowing from one medium to the next feels natural.”
One of his most well-known pieces is a massive mural painted outside of Atlanta Used Furniture, and he is a regular fixture at art events such as one he recently participated in that was hosted by Georgia Vintage Goods.
“I met so many folks, sold a lot of work and had the best sweatiest day ever. Looking forward to more days like that.” You also might spot Benson as he travels around town with his renovated 1967 trailer which he has converted into a mobile art tent of sorts.
While there are plenty of Benson’s pieces that are strictly graphic, heavily text-oriented, or composed of amorphous and organic shapes, his work also commonly features nude bodies.
“The human forms I often show in my work probably grew out of my love for retro James Bond opening credits, posters, and films,” said Benson, who noted a particular love for 2001 A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange which sparked “an obsession with 70s industrial and interior design.”
Considered risqué by some, Benson’s portraits of silhouetted bodies in often retro-futuristic environments utilize bright colors and bold lines, exploring the world of 2.5D art. Benson is inspired by pop artists such as Peter Max, Andy Warhol, Patrick Nagel, and Keith Haring, and the 3D works of Jeff Koons and Chihuly.
“I have one piece that looks like children’s building blocks in a glass shadow box but instead of your ABCs and 123s, the blocks are sexually suggestive,” explained Benson. “A lot of adults still have a lot of learning to do, specifically about their sexuality and / or repression. If I can poke at that in a bright, fun way, why not? Sex should be fun. And art that sometimes has a sexual theme doesn’t have to be serious.”
“The ideas pick me,” said Benson, who is seemingly always working on something. Currently, he is taking a deep dive into 1930s commercial and fine arts photographer George Platt Lynes whose work often depicts partially or fully nude male figures, and he hopes to expand into more diverse body types through this research and creative exploration.
You can see Benson’s work for yourself at Summerhill Sundays hosted by Georgia vintage goods on Sunday, July 10.