Neil Bender’s work is the epitome of Boucher’s quote: “I detest the natural world because it is too green and poorly lit”. The aim of the work is to seduce and give pleasure through imagery that is social and accessible, that loves the idea of surface as a way of picturing honest yet mischievous belief systems. The work is a communicative device that takes imagery that is exploited by our popular culture and forms a new interface for open dialogue, with an interest in pleasure, sensuality, and black humor as the starting points. Through a restructuring of provocative images, he hopes to open up new contents that are potentially morally questionable.

 

 

To suspend the viewer’s interaction with the work, Bender deploys ‘hooks’ such as graphic imagery and lurid color to create an overflowing, lascivious world of flowering, fluid fragments that are theatrical and explore many possible genders and sexual situations. Pink is used as a color of identification, which is descriptive of all of our internal bodies. Its feminine connotations are embraced and simultaneously upended to create aggressive images. Installation has become a method to create stages for the many characters of Bender’s practice; small theatres within larger theatres.

 

 

Since a typically-American adolescence of pop residue (such as baseball, pro wrestling, He-Man, hip-hop and shopping malls) in urban New Jersey, Bender has looked to image –making as a way of negotiating biological drives and urges with culture’s beautifully decorative facades, social norms, and stilted morality. Most of our humor revolves around the obscene; Bender’s work aims to use humor as a start to open up other far-reaching and probing investigations. Without having rigid expectations from the viewer, Bender hopes they can use his objects for the alleviation of anxiety and the eradication of desire to reach a welcoming space where every fantasy and fetish is potentially fulfilled.

 

 

Neil Bender was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and currently lives and works in Florida. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, at the Front in New Orleans, the Boston Center for the Arts, the CUE Art Foundation in New York, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Saltworks Gallery in Atlanta, the Boston Center for the Arts, Fe Gallery in Pittsburgh, Palazzo Casali in Cortona, Italy, and many other venues. His work was represented by Bleu Acier Gallery in the Bridge Art Fair during Art Basel Miami 2006-8 and Art Chicago 2007, and shown in San Juan at Circa PR in 2010. He received the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant in 2002 after getting his degree from the University of Georgia, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2004, and the ‘Painting’s Edge’ program in Idyllwild, CA in 2006 and 2008.