Ben Foster - Kaikoura studio, New Zealand 2016

Ben Foster - Kaikoura studio, New Zealand 2016

 

Working from his purpose-built studio, Foster spends his time just a short journey from the jagged shore of the Kaikoura peninsula where whales and other marine life occupy the coastal waters of the Pacific. To the other side his studio is overlooked by the snow-tipped peaks of the seaward Kaikoura Ranges. This arresting site is a potent force in Foster’s work, asserting itself formally in his practice through the geometric lines that trace the craggy landscape. 
 
Foster’s interpretation of place leads him to focus on creatures that are plucked straight from his local ecology. His works have cited both indigenous species (Karearea, 2016 and Shadow, 2016) and domestic (Good Boy, 2017). However, the adroit industrial production of these works ensures that they can equally be read as architectural entities.
 
Through his consideration of anatomy and form Foster delineates essential features while obscuring detail, allowing angular approximations to stand in for the nuances of curves and organic shape. His works are convincing; embodying their animality while avoiding sentimentality. Polygon structures create unfamiliar surfaces, assuring the work retains its sculptural focus and stripping the works of any individual monumentality. Foster addresses fundamental characteristics, movement, and tension; the flip of a tail or the grasp of a claw is described through simple geometry. He exploits the nature of perception, which allows us to fill in the blanks, and to see the whole from suggested fragments. Karearea summarises the powerful native falcon to a few dozen surfaces, yet we instinctively understand and recognise the bird’s weight and poise.
 
Foster’s inherent regionalism gives his work strong ties to the landscape but he also seeks to address the temporal relationships created within the context of an exhibition format. In his 2016 exhibition Spectrum, Foster struck a dialogue between predator and prey, with The White Deer alongside Karearea, contrasting light and dark finishes to further distinguish the works. The sculptures obstinately occupy space; their facets create dynamic light-dependent surfaces with shifting shadows that augment the experience of our surroundings.
 
Recent works include Foster’s first investigations of the human form. Figure 88 (2016) is an anthropomorphic figure reduced to its bare essentials, permitting us to instantly project onto the work beyond the anecdotal. The figure stands with feet astride, weight casually balanced and hands in “pockets”; we are presented with an impression of relaxed detachment that may conceal more complex emotions beneath the mask-like surfaces. Although smaller than human scale - and elevated to full height on its plinth - the work imposes authority over the viewer. The title, taken from the number of facets that makes up the work, reinforces Foster’s focus on aesthetics, balance and symmetry.
Employing immaculate construction techniques, Foster’s works have no material identity – aluminum and lacquer paint form a completely anonymous surface. This high level of finish comes from the strong engineering focus of Foster’s practice, which has previously seen him take inspiration from industrial components; resulting in sleek abstract sculpture. In his more recent work, the linear planes suggest both the design of digital CAD models and the art of origami; these works could be molded from resin or even folded from paper.


Ben Foster toys with our perception of his artfully constructed archetypal forms; we evoke meaning onto the sparest of surfaces. Through slick design and industrial production his sculptures are at once ambivalent and stark, yet take on a universal appeal.

 Golden Boy by Ben Foster. Image: Kaikoura, New Zealand 2012

Golden Boy by Ben Foster. Image: Kaikoura, New Zealand 2012

SOLO EXHIBTIONS

2016
Spectrum: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand

2014
Nexus: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand

2013
Continuum: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand
Preview: Mill Road Studio, Kaikoura, New Zealand

2011
Momentum: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2018

Craggy Range Summer Sculpture Trail, Havelock North, New Zealand 

‘One Night With…’ MARS Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

SAMPLER, Sanderson Contemporary, New Market, New Zealand 

2017
Annual Autumn Exhibition: Tai Tapu Sculpture Park: Christchurch, New Zealand

2016
What We Make of It: MTG Public Art Gallery, Napier Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Brick Bay Sculpture Trail: Warkworth, New Zealand
Annual Autumn Exhibition: Tai Tapu Sculpture Park: Christchurch, New Zealand

2015
Flora & Fauna: Millennium Public Art Gallery, Blenheim, New Zealand
Sculpture on the Peninsula: Loudon Farm, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
King’s College Fine Art Sale: King’s College, Auckland, New Zealand
Fusion: P-Art, Ibiza, Spain
Headland Sculpture on the Gulf: Waiheke Island , New Zealand
Annual Autumn Exhibition: Tai Tapu Sculpture Park: Christchurch, New Zealand

2014
Melbourne Art Fair: Sanderson Contemporary Art stand. Melbourne, Australia
Art in a Garden: Flaxemere Gardens, Canterbury, New Zealand
King’s College Fine Art Sale, King’s College, Auckland, New Zealand
Opening Exhibition: Tai Tapu Sculpture Park, Christchurch
, New Zealand
Sculpture in the Lanes: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Newmarket, New Zealand 

2013
Sculpture in the Gardens: Auckland Botanic Gardens, Manurewa, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Art Fair: Sanderson Contemporary Art, The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand
Advent: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Parnell, New Zealand 

2012
Advent: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
King’s College Fine Art Sale, King’s College, Auckland, New Zealand
Sculpture in the Garden: Riccarton House, Christchurch, New Zealand
NZ Sculpture OnShore: North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand
Sculpture and Object: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
Art in a Garden: Flaxemere Gardens, Canterbury, New Zealand
Shapeshifter: Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand

2011
Laisee: Koru Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Advent: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
Sculpture on the Peninsula: Loudon Homestead, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
Art in a Garden: Flaxemere Gardens, Canterbury, New Zealand
Locale: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Art Fair:Sanderson Contemporary Art, Viaduct Event Centre, Auckland, New Zealand
12 Walls: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
Sculpture in Central Otago: Rippon, Wanaka , New Zealand

2010
Advent: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand
NZ Sculpture OnShore: North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand
Art in a Garden: Flaxemere Gardens, Canterbury, New Zealand
Heartland Sculpture Challenge: Timaru, New Zealand
E-Scape: Sculpture in the Landscape: Waitakaruru Sculpture Park, Hamilton, New Zealand
Ellerslie Sculpture Garden: Ellerslie International Flower Show, Hagley Park. Christchurch, New Zealand
Art in the Woolshed: Tawharanui Regional Park, Auckland, New Zealand

 

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