The Subconscious Storyteller: Benjamin Terry at RE Gallery

By Justin Hunt

The storybook nostalgia of South Dallas' RE Gallery is the perfect milieu for the exhibition of Benjamin Terry's latest works, the unconscious mind. While Terry's previous ventures focused principally on large, technically adept, two-dimensional works, the current series is a breakthrough of shape and color in much smaller packages. Rather than exhibiting the dark recesses normally attributed to the subconscious ("Repressed memories" anyone?), Terry's works - on display at RE Gallery through October 12 - are light and free.

Each work is a sculpture of plywood scrap, molded together in to smooth, rounded forms. The sculptures are bold with simple or singular color palettes, finished with hand-marked scratches, scribbles and scuffs. By simplifying the composition, Terry manages to universalize the messages of his vision.

Reminiscent of the playful automatism of Miró, Terry's works invoke wonder and doodles of thought. Rather than constrain the narrative of his work in to highly detailed - and personal - paintings and drawings, The Unconscious Mind releases the artistic narrative to the viewer. At the gallery opening, Terry described his excitement to make the viewer the storyteller, stating that the "childlike, playful, cartoon-graphics" are at once his past, but also the story of generations of former children.

One work in particular, "Object 31," stands out in canary yellow. The scars on the three-dimensional work are the dents and dings on the hood of the aging Ford truck rambling down a rural farm road. Or, they are the pen marks and gravel-scrapes of a school lunchbox, forgotten in the attic. Either way, the work is simultaneously abstract and immediately familiar.

"Object 28," part of the catalogue for this year's TWOxTWO auction, is one of the larger and more easily accessible works in the exhibition. A gray rainbow-like arc, the curves seems to bend out of the linear gallery space. One can almost hear the gentle rain of a spring storm on the roof of the home of one's youth, or of annual trips to a grandparent's house. Then neutral coloring of this piece is more soothing than dreary, while the inexact sculptural lines feel authentic and human.

RE Gallery is the perfect space for Terry's works. The bright colors of many of the pieces jump off the whitewash walls, while the more neutral creations fade in to the backdrop, like unfinished memories conjured from school-desk doodles and crayons on bedroom walls. the unconscious mind is a movement forward in Terry's artistic narrative, releasing the story of his past while managing to invoke the audience's own.

See the unconscious mind through October 12, by appointment, info@regallerystudio.com or 972-974-3004.

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