Todd Bienvenu (born 1980 in Little Rock, Arkansas, lives and works in New York) paints oil and acrylic compositions on canvas. Emerging first from his dense figurative compositions are the power and energy of his strong colors, and their spontaneous movement. His paintings are expressive and uninhibited.
The artist begins by applying color directly, abstract forms emerge, and the subjects develop naturally, excavated through the process of the addition and subtraction of paint. He depicts sex, tattooed rockers, beaches, alcohol, parties, urban scenes, and fragments of everyday life Bienvenu’s biographical universe. He paints the subjects he knows; what he is living, has lived, has pulled from the web, what he finds interesting in daily life—whatever passes through his head.
“Humor is honesty. The real struggle for me is to get butt naked in the paintings, to be completely vulnerable. Whatever it is that is on my mind, whatever my concerns are, I don’t want to hide from them.”
Although his subjects are often burlesque, we perceive a form of underlying melancholy. Indeed, many of them are the result of a reflection that is a source of both nostalgia and solace. Embedded within the artist’s sense of humor and freewheeling paint, the works hold deep and timeless existential questions.
A more profound feeling, a tragic dimension offsets the apparent lightness. In Bienvenu’s recent work, the vulnerability of the body holds an important place. In this respect, subjects such as snowboard and skateboard crashes and, by extension, bike and car accidents, echo the physical changes related to age and the fragility of a body that is no longer 18 years old.
Bienvenu speaks as much of the party as of its end. It is as if the deep solitude of being has been made visible, even within the most banal and “good-natured” day-to-day. Yet it is a question neither of sadness nor of resignation, it is the opposite.
Todd Bienvenu recently received an award from the American Academy of Art & Letters, NY, for excellence in painting, conferred by Peter Saul.