Benjamin Pakuts was born in 1979 in Ottawa, Canada. He attended the Arts Canterbury program at Canterbury High School in Ottawa and apprenticed with the late Dennis Tourbin.
After a three year sabbatical in Granada, Spain, Ben relocated to Toronto where he creates mixed media paintings that focus on our relationship with place, history, and local flora and fauna.
PreStories Artist Statement
This current set of works aims to illustrate the complexity of civilization’s connections with the distant past and, through inference, our uncertain future. Each painting explores a different aspect of our connection with the natural world, and its various facets over eons of time.
While the traditional narrative places nature as placid to be harnessed and controlled to do our bidding, against the backdrop of time, this control can be seen shifting, and slipping away. Recent events, natural catastrophes, the treat of climactic meltdown, have re-established Nature as a narrative that has a life of its own.
"A meadow is nothing by a field of suffering. Every second, some creature is dying in the gorgeous green expanse, ants eat wriggling earthworms, birds lurk in the sky to pounce on a weasel or a mouse...." Milan Kundera, Immortality, 1991.
The works contain references to the risks we face under this unwritten story, in the paws of the polar bear, immortalized as the Tundra turns to fields in Northern Plains. In Ned and the Swan, is the representation of civilization's intimacy with extinct animals, that have been condensed, into a pool of crude oil. Throughout the works, despite the discomforting themes, is an upside. The bird and dinosaur hybrids in the "museum display" pieces suggest the continuity of a lineage from ancient to modern avian, hinting that current crisis will be smoothed out with the passage of time.
Sincere brushwork using both watercolour and acrylic paints on heavy weight archival watercolour paper was chosen to add continuity to the works, and to place them as a type of history painting. The medium also offers a romanticism of light and colour that add emotional warm to soften the potentially worrisome messages contained in the works.
The landscapes are crafted in the hope of re-awakening our consciousness to our surroundings. My passion is both the power of the natural world and the way people interact with it. I paint local environs, both natural and manmade, because they are two very important elements in maintaining our past and determining our future.
I use acrylic paints, pastels, crayons, charcoal, and oils in combination to capture effects of light that are found in-between tamed spaces such as parking lots or suburbia and the untamed fringes found in parks, abandoned lots, and by rivers.
Many of my current pieces are inspired by walks in unkempt urban spaces, by Whistler’s Nocturnes, and other artists such as Maurice Cullen and Jaume Morera Galícia. Buildings are featured, and often provide the source of light that is characteristic of the night sky. The paintings explore the urban environment and attempt to remind us of the wealth that nature has to offer and help reconnect us with our local landscape.