Medicine Cabinet: New Paintings by Ben Hamburger
Solo Exhibition at at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC
February 3rd - 28th, 2019
Check out the article about the series published in INDY Week here
Medicine Cabinet Artist Statement:
Hidden behind bathroom mirrors and off limits to curious guests, medicine cabinets are where we keep our personal tools to cope, to live, and to thrive. Yoga, meditation apps, social media, antidepressants, sage sticks, and magic mushrooms. How do we choose our remedies? When are they helpful tools and when do they consume us?
This body of work is inspired by the mystery of depression. I know it is too often simplified, misrepresented, and overprescribed. But I don’t know what it is, why I experience it, or how to get rid of it. The older I get, the more I realize life is a process of searching for more, making additions and alterations to our lifestyles and belief systems to get closer to true freedom of the spirit. If depression, like happiness, is fleeting, maybe the only constant is our pursuit for something better.
A brief trip to Joshua Tree, CA impacted both the content and imagery in the paintings. Most of the people depicted in the paintings are friends I spent time with on that trip. While exploring the national park, I was captivated by the rock formations. As we walked through rugged crevasses and clambered up boulders, I found forms in the rocks; completely frozen, but charged with mass, power, and grace. And I felt at peace. I wanted to bring that sense of duality to my paintings; infusing strength, adventure, and beauty to my paintings of people trapped within the confines of their frame.
Discussions around mental health, like politics and identities, are routinely flattened into binaries and categories. I wanted to concentrate on the many contrasting elements that simultaneously exist within us. My self-portrait may look like me at my worst, but every brushstroke that generates the picture is an indication of me at my most alive, dynamic, and free. Things are often two different things at once, and that’s what makes life worth living.