Brian Edmonds interviews painter Todd Bienvenu about his work on the occasion of the upcoming exhibition Todd Bienvenu: Borrowing Tomorrow's Fun at Life on Mars Gallery, Bushwick, Brooklyn, on view September 5 – 28, 2014.
Bienvenu remarks: "I don’t really think about it in terms of 'characters.' I don’t feel like I’m a story teller. The paintings start with me just painting. There’s typically no idea. It’s just laying down marks. The figures emerge, then I realize what they could potentially be doing. Oh, that’s a girl’s butt. Oh that looks like a bearded dude in a bar. I will give you that people in my life show up in the paintings who inspire me or are just fun to paint. I’m in the paintings all the time. There are lots of surrogates. The way I draw the figure resembles me proportionally. I don’t have an imaginary cast of characters that I plug in though. It’s more like, I think this girl should have blond hair because the painting needs some yellow… It’s a painting world and language that I’m working in. The decisions made are more about what the painting needs than what a real space would look like. That said, I am drawn to putting recognizable imagery in there. I love purely abstract work, but I’m a stone cold figurative painter, it’s unavoidable. I like giving the viewer something to hang on to, myself included. No wallpaper, no hiding, I want tension. I also want an edge, maybe be a little provocative. The world doesn’t need another boring painting that merely 'works.' "