Ben Durham’s works depict portraits drained of representation, expressed through road maps or jumbled lettering. He approaches mark-making as a physical and performative act, a repetitive and irreversible process without erasure. In much of his work, imagery is not drawn but sculpted into the surface of handmade paper or delineated by lead lines in stained glass. The resulting portraits exist almost as sculptural drawings, emerging from the canvas in layers of paper pulp which forming tangible yet unidentified figures. Across realistic and abstract media, Durham portrays faces of childhood peers who have turned felons, conveying unpredictability in transformation and identity.
Durham was born in Lexington, KY in 1982 and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. He currently works and resides in Richmond, VA. His work is held in major collections, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; 21c Museum, Louisville, KY; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.