The Breeder Residency Program is pleased to present Ben Wolf Noam’s exhibition “Field of Ares” at Romantso Cultural Center in Athens. The exhibition is the result of the artist’s four week residency in Athens and will include works that were produced during that time and reflect his experiences in the city. Noam is the inaugural resident of The Breeder Residency Program, curated by Stamatia Dimitrakopoulos, also marking the beginning of the residency’s collaboration with Romantso Cultural Center.
The Field of Ares is a park with many secrets. Like many of the great urban parks, it is a symbol of social unity, providing momentary respite from the throb of city streets, and space for entertainment, solitude, or leisure. But Field of Ares has a peculiar energy, intense with activity both suspicious and benign. It was a place full of the most diverse complexity and social interaction: grandfathers playing backgammon, passed out junkies, jogging yuppies, and gypsy villages. Entering the park, one leaves behind the city’s constant pressure of consumption and trade to discover a new form of social interaction. As Greece faced the threat of imminent crisis, the Field of Ares embodied what became most salient: Money isn’t what holds society together, it is people that hold society together, and what can also drive them apart.
Ben Wolf Noam makes paintings and installations that draw together the natural and the digital, by projecting the forms of local foliage onto the two dimensional space of the canvas. The surface of his painting is further flattened through the use of processes that recreate gradients and masking. The paintings reflect the outcome of a decade of research into processes that reinterpret digital image-making techniques within analog media, translating the tools of Photoshop—gradient fills, stamps, and alpha layers—into forms of painting.
By using plant foliage, Wolf Noam physically engages with the specific locations in which he works—social and physical spaces, climate, and geography— and embeds a local imprint onto his work, using the foliage like he would a brush or a piece of charcoal.Through the foraging process he explores the local environment and the ways in which nature serves as a unique backdrop to the social life of a city. The process originated when Wolf Noam pulled down the ivy climbing the walls of his Bushwick studio and has served as a motif that carries throughout successive bodies of work, while evolving to reflect the locality of the paintings’ production. Recent paintings from Los Angeles use plants from the banks of the LA River to engage with the contemporary meaning of this notorious and troubled river, its ebbs and flows as California faces the worst drought in its history.
For Field of Ares, Wolf Noam presents new paintings that extend these methods to reckon with the current moment in Greece, as Athens braced itself for economic turmoil while demonstrating patience and unity in the streets. Under threat from European economic leadership, Wolf Noam was struck by the persistence of dignity and openness within Greek society. The Field of Ares park — one of Athens’ largest public spaces — embodied these contradictions. A large and popular park dedicated to Greek independence, it celebrates national heroes even as it houses people dispossessed by the recent crisis. By drawing the materials of this park into his work, Wolf Noam engages with this specific site while simultaneously using its vestiges to create a new type of engagement with the space.
In line with his collaborative practice Ben Wolf Noam has invited performance artist, rapper, poet and activist Michael David Quattlebum Jr (Mykki Blanco) to breathe life into the space with a site specific performance.
Ben Wolf Noam was born in Cambridge, MA, in 1987, and received a B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design in 2009. He has exhibited throughout America, Europe and the Middle East. Exhibitions include Suzanne Geiss Co. (New York), Museo di Capodimonte (Naples, Italy), Martos Gallery (Los Angeles), Hooper Projects (Los Angeles), Metropolitan Art Society (Beirut, Lebanon), HUS Gallery (London, England), Brand New Gallery (Milan, Italy), and others. He has had performances commissioned by Night Gallery and PS1 MoMA.
Ben Wolf Noam’s visual, curatorial, and performative work has been presented in The Observer, Vice, T Magazine, ArtFCity, Art in America, Artforum, Nylon, Purple Magazine and many others. He lives in between Los Angeles and New York City.