Mario Benjamin is a highly influential contemporary Haitian artist known for his innovative approach to self-portraiture and his use of unconventional materials to create unique and thought-provoking works of art. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1964, Benjamin is a self-taught artist who has gained international recognition for his contributions to the field of contemporary art.
Initially, Benjamin focused on photorealism, creating portraits of families in the Haitian elite that were highly realistic and lucrative. However, he soon began to feel limited by the conventions of traditional portraiture and sought to break away from them. This led him to destroy his previous work and reinvent himself as an artist, incorporating new objects and techniques into his art.
Benjamin’s self-portraits are particularly notable for their use of wood, fabric, and fluorescent paint to create a three-dimensional, fragmented image that challenges traditional notions of the portrait. His work often features dark tones and spare lines that contrast sharply with the bright colors and intricate patterns of traditional Haitian painting.
Despite being self-taught, Benjamin is well-versed in the visual references of museums and international trends in contemporary art. He has exhibited at major institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, the ARCO gallery in Madrid, and the AMA gallery in Haiti. He has also participated in numerous biennales, including those in Havana and Venice.
Benjamin’s art is deeply rooted in his personal experiences and reflects his concerns about race, identity, and the limitations of his society. His recent productions in particular reflect his fear of becoming stifled by societal conventions and his desire to convey the idea that things that appear acceptable may be very different in reality.
Overall, Mario Benjamin’s art challenges traditional Haitian painting and creates a new aesthetic of the portrait. His willingness to break away from conventions and experiment with new materials and techniques has made him a highly influential figure in the world of contemporary art.