Ben Aitken’s art is playful and serious in equal measure. He is tactical and strategic in his methods, building inner tensions while retaining an overarching unity. There is an ever-present threat of collapse or explosion in his work, an imminence, that could come from the slightest shift to any aspect of a piece or series. Drawing from deeply personal experiences of violence, loss and compulsion, he seeks to imbue a gravitas that he trips up with comedic relief. This counterpoint of dark and light plays out through duelling notions of soft and hard, realism and abstraction, text and image, and other myriad binaries that feed and fight their way through his work.
Across painting, sculpture, text and video, Aitken is a relentless creator whose body of work continues to evolve a complex narrative of identity. There is a grappling urge to communicate, to connect – to appeal and to repulse, to jar and to soothe – all the while showing that these dualities are what dance together to make us whole. The manic frenzy of painted brushstrokes with the sharpened resolve of impact font, the vibrant products of mass consumerism with the nihilistic urge of self-destruction. Aitken’s work is a maelstrom of energy that flirts with disaster but delivers us poise, and the trajectory of its path gathers its own momentum.