Biography

Ben’s multi-disciplinary practice involves, but not limited to, painting, installation and text. Across these mediums the artist references personal narratives, humor, art related politics, historical events and the artists childhood. Often the work has the capacity to be playful and acerbic at the same time, incorporating traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques, sometimes resulting in a critique on art itself. Often veiled but sometimes confrontational, the work raises questions on aesthetic, art-political and social conventions. Benjamin’s current body of work spanning many materials and years is often connected by alternative literature and prose poetry, giving hand to versatile creations no matter what environment the artist may be working in. The artist prides himself in what he calls ‘group shows’ – bodies of work that could be seen to be created by a number of artists but are created by the artist himself, with subtle motifs and visual cues linking his practice together.

Last year (2018) he was a finalist in the Archibald Prize, and was the winner of the Tony Fini Foundation Prize at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. This year he is again an Archibald Prize finalist, showed work in Haengchen Art Museum curated by Seung-Li and has upcoming shows at the University of Arizona, and a major solo show in Bangkoks TARS, curated by Pierre Bechon. The artist also frequently collaborates with senior artist Jon Cattapan. Their last exhibition was held at the Latrobe Arts Institute (formerly LUMA), curated by senior curator Dr. Kent Wilson.

More information on upcoming and past exhibitions, residencies and collections can be found below, including links of writings and essays on the artist. Although painting very few a year, Ben’s practice also includes portraiture and is open to commissions. You can see some of those works over here.

Ben is represented by THIS IS NO FANTASY (Dianne Tanzer + Nicola Stein).

Ben is also a member of W.A.G.E, Working Artists and the Greater Economy, a New York-based activist organization founded in 2008. Their mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract our labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy. Ben is also a member of Americans for the Arts (ID 415215) alongside being a premium member of NAVA (National Association for Visual Arts).

Co-founder of Nicholas Projects, a once physical space and now itinerant gallery program, Ben has launched the Nicholas Foundation alongside his partner which features over 80 artworks available for public viewing by appointment and institutional loans. The ethos of the foundation is to support artists at all stages of their career. Some of the artists included but not limited to are Alex Da Corte, Jonny Niesche, Michael Staniak, Daniel Boyd, Helen Johnson, Jelena Telecki and Ian Burns. With the aim of a future house museum that will eventually be a donation to leading museums creating cultural discourse and educational archives.

Current Exhibition

Ghost Baby, TARS Bangkok. 23/11/19 – 19/01/20

Upcoming Exhibitions

‘Shooting Gallery’ THIS IS NO FANTASY, 1st April, 2020
Residency at Rajamangala University of Technology, Feb – March 2020
‘Do I have to spell it out for you’ Town Hall Gallery Commission 2020
‘Spirit House’ TBA, Vienna 2021

Solo Exhibitions (selected)

2018 ‘Hard Yakka’, Sutton Projects
2018  ‘An artist of some description’, Alaska Projects
2018 Latrobe Art Institute, with Prof. Jon Cattapan curated by Dr. Kent Wilson
2016 ‘Alternative Literature is also like Alternative Literature’ Opened by Prof. Jon Cattapan of the VCA, Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre
2015 ‘Sometimes I feel like killing myself(ies)’, Opened by critic Ashley Crawford, Essay by Sam Leach, Rubicon ARI.
2014 ‘Holy grin’ Gallerysmith Projectspace

Group Exhibitions (selected)

2019 ‘The snake eats it’s tail’, The University of Arizona
2019 International SUMUK workshops – Haenam Arts & Cultural Centre, Korea
2019 ‘Untitled’, Sooyun Art Space, Korea
2019 ‘Gongjae and the artist’s self portrait’, hosted by the Haengchon Cultural Foundation at Haengchon Art Museum, Korea

Residencies

Haengchen Arts & Cultural Centre, Korea 2019
Poh Chang Academy of Art, Thailand 2019
Rajamangala University of Technology, Chiang Mai 2018
Art Vault, Australia 2017
Robin Eley, Studio assistant, Los Angeles 2016

Awards (selected)

2019 Semi-finalist Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
2019 Semi-finalist Lester prize, Art Gallery of Western Australia
2019 Highly Commended – Hawkesbury Art Prize
2019 Footscray Contemporary Art Prize (Finalist), collaboration with Jon Cattapan
2019 Archibald Prize (Finalist)
2018 Tony Fini Foundation Prize for Portraiture, Art Gallery of Western Australia (Winner)
2018 Archibald Prize (Finalist)
2016 R+M McGivern Prize for Text based painting (Finalist)
2016 Archibald Prize (Finalist)
2015 Brett Whitley Travelling Art Scholarship (Semi Finalist)
2015 Hurford Hardwood prize for Portraiture (Finalist)
2015 Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize (Painting) – (Finalist)
2014 Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, WA – (Highly Commended)

Collections (selected)

Sooyun Art Space, Korea
The Michael and Janet Buxton family collection
Lismore Regional Gallery
Rajamangala University of Technology, Thailand
Poh Chang, Academy of Art, Thailand
The Nicholas Foundation
PriceWaterhouseCooper
RMIT University
Future Work Skills Academy, New York
Cato Counsel

Texts

Ben Aitken takes no prisoners by Dr Ashley Crawford
Katie Paine and Diego Rameryiez on ‘Circling’ by Benjamin Aitken and Jon Cattapan at Latrobe Arts Institute
Working with the Angles by Dr Kent Wilson, Senior Curator, Latrobe Arts Institute
Dr Sam Leach on Benjamin Aitken, 2015