Francisco is one of our newest client’s at Artotems Co. A talented artist, his speciality is the ancient greek method of encaustic painting.
Francisco Benitez considers himself an atemporal archaeologist who excavates lost and forgotten styles of painting long assigned to the shadows to reveal the ever-transient nature of the human psyche. Trained in a rigorous atelier program at the Art Student’s League in New York, he frequented museums and copied old master paintings in order to master their techniques and conceptual strategies. However, impelled by an emotional/psychological impulse, he initially embraced a Caravaggesque approach to his subjects, in which narratives were weaved about the subjects as light sculpted their forms out of shadow.
Always concerned with presenting the human psyche in all its complexity, Benitez later discovered the ancient Romans and Greeks, and in his desire to fuse the gravitas of history with the psychological narratives of his subjects, he embarked on a new series of works in encaustic, one of the most ancient painting techniques known to humanity, and one of the most difficult to master.
As the Fayum portraits of Ancient Egypt attest, wax not only served to embalm the dead but to resurrect and revivify the subjects represented. By using the ancient tools and restrained palette of the Greeks, Benitez has isolated the psyche and placed it on center stage, whereby the viewer brings his/her subjectivity to the work and in effect initiates a complicit relationship with memory, history, and the geological layering of the collective human experience through the represented individual.
Born in 1967 in Taos, New Mexico, into a family of performing and visual artists—Maria and Cecilio Benitez—he obtained his BFA from the University of New Mexico, after having studied in Granada, Spain, the Art Student’s League, and St. John’s College. Besides actively showing in the US, he has also lived and exhibited widely in Europe, especially in France and Italy, where he has participated in a number of museum and gallery shows.