Ben Evans Illustrates Poolside Melodrama

At once playful and plaintive, the ascendant painter’s cartoonish rendition of a tennis match gone awry captures a scenic snapshot of sun-soaked surrealism.

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Ben Evans, 26, Los Angeles (@benisright)

Title of work: strange36 (2021).

Where to see it: Guy Hepner Contemporary Gallery (520 W 27th St, New York) as part of my solo show “Poolside” on view until Nov. 19.

Three words to describe it: Pensive, sad, campy.

What was on your mind at the time: I’m always looking for spaces that feel otherworldly and the tennis court feels like a surrealist landscape that’s color-blocked and flat. I’m not sure if the piece follows an exact narrative in my mind, but my thoughts are always on melodramatic performance and camp, and I think that reads in this work.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: Maybe the lack of tennis being played—no tennis ball in sight. I like the idea of them getting all dressed up to smoke a Marlboro Gold in a semi-surreal, pale green tennis court landscape.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: This piece feels like an extension of my current works because I stay in a realm of cartoon-ized imagery that exists in between reality and fantasy—kind of the strangeness of a manufactured idyllic life somewhere between Alex Katz and Norman Rockwell.

One song that captures its essence: “Minus One” by Broadcast.

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