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Francisco Benítez (b.1967 Taos), lives and works between Provence, France and Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
In his painting practice, Benítez excavates historic, lost or forgotten styles of painting, a process he describes as “atemporal archaeology”. In his more recent work, the idea of unveiling or revealing the subject through the use of light and narrative is approached via Greco-Roman art, notably the Fayum Mummy portraits where wax is used both to embalm the body and simultaneously resurrect the subject via their likeness executed in encaustic. Benítez employs these ancient techniques to fuse the psychology of his subject with the history of art and representation. He was recently invited by Harvard University to discuss and teach these techniques at the Fogg Art Museum and has subsequently been invited back to run further workshops for the University.
Benítez studied at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Facultad de Bellas Artes, Granada, St.John’s College, Santa Fe, and The Art Students League of New York, New York City. Raised in New Mexico, New York, and Spain by his mother, a famous Flamenco dancer and choreographer, and his father, a Spanish set designer. The family’s Southern European heritage fostered Benítez’s interest in the Baroque Masters, particularly the tenebrism of Caravaggio, a technique which in Benítez’s work has parallels with the way narrative is woven around the subject like a veil or shroud to reveal the shape and complexities of the human psyche.
Solo exhibitions include: Messina, Sicily, (2002); Monastero del Ritiro, Syracuse, Sicily (2006); Galleria Quadrifoglio, Siracusa (2008); Capella Bonajuto, Catania (2008); Castello di Aci, Catania, Sicily (2009). Selected group exhibitions include: Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice; Musée Denys-Puech, Rodez; “Occhi: Travaux Récents” Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, Gordes, (with Michele Ciacciofera and Emilia Faro); “Imperium” curated by Dr. Thomas Noble Howe and Edward Lucie-Smith, Southwestern University, Texas (2010); “Doña Inés Lost Her Slipper” Santa Fe Community College Visual Art Gallery, traveling to Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto (2014) and Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (2018).
Benitez is represented in numerous public collections including the New Mexico State Legislature Public Art Collection, Santa Fe; National Hispanic Culture Center, Albuquerque; and the Conseil Général de l’Aveyron, Rodez, France. His work is included in numerous private collections throughout the United States, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Sweden and France, including the Jean Paul Gaultier collection, Paris.