Benjamin Swallow Duke was born in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Utah. He studied Literature, Philosophy and Art at the University of Utah receiving his BFA in 2002. He received his Master of Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore Hoffberger School of Painting, and has been teaching painting and drawing at Michigan State University since 2006. Duke has had numerous Solo, and Group shows at the national and international level including at the Fitton Art Center in Hamilton, Ohio, "Weak Painting Group," exhibitions at The Kuandu Museum of Fine Art in Taipei and Da Xiang Art Space in Taichung City, Taiwan, and Several Solo exhibitions at Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago. Duke's work has been represented since 2006 by Ann Nathan Gallery, a well-established and respected downtown Chicago Gallery with a focus on contemporary realism. Duke has also been awarded international residencies at Bamboo Curtain Studios, Taiwan from May to July 2009 and The Kuandu Museum of Fine Art December 2009 through January 2010 at Taipei National University of the Arts, the premier Art University in Taiwan. A Catalogue entitled: Benjamin Duke 2001-2010: Ten years of Work with essays by Brian Kubarycz, a scholar of contemporary literature, and Su YuAnn, an independent curator and critic, published by Garden City Publishing in June 2010. * Benjamin Duke is ROY G BIV's inaugural recipient of our Individual Artist Award. He will be given funds to create new work for the exhibition.
In my paintings I ask myself “Is this the way the world is?’ I reshape and retool my painting experience to answer that question. But while the question begins with the world, it ends with the work itself: “Is this the way the world is in this work?” The search is for the world in painting and painting in the world (painting worlds/paintings world). Am I in the world or is the world in me? I allude to my life, to writers works, to imagery and it is my hope that this record of allusion conjures and creates the same. I am referring to text, theory, idea but I am also finding myself already there, looking out to see in. With this overarching goal in mind, lately I have been exploring figure ground relationships such that the figure is a composite of multiples: multiple limbs, multiple people and multiple places. The figures are composed such that they combine visually into a larger whole, alluding to the social group as an identity in itself- the machinery of the social order. I seek to locate content beyond the obvious narrative in the arrangement of the visual elements. Through these images I seek to explore the hybrid and composite nature of identity, the intersection between self-conception and social reality and how context impacts the possibilities of self-realization.