Benjamin Dray is an artist based in Sydney, Australia. He completed his formal art education in Australia and has painted continuously for the last 30 years living and working in his studio home on Scotland Island.
His current series of paintings is a poetic interpretation of the often contentious materialist atomist cosmology first proposed by Democritus and developed by Epicurus around the 3rd century BC in Ancient Greece. The concept that the universe is not divinely governed but is constructed from indivisible, unseen foundational elements, which they named ‘Atoms’, was an extraordinary advance and achievement in natural philosophy and are central to the origins and foundation of the scientific revolution and modernity. By default, we are all now Epicureans, even if many people are unaware of the history.
For Dray, Philosophy deals in the abstract, and abstraction is an indispensable tool in art and culture. Through his paintings, he reasserts that abstraction has been a part of humanity, all cultures of all ages. It’s an indispensable tool, as we create symbols, vessels to fill with allusions and messages. The resulting artwork has a strong sense of purpose.
Each painting contains hundreds of hand-colored trapezoid shapes, hand-drawn with a sharp blade onto silver or gold leaf. Each colored shape can be interpreted to represent an ‘atomic’ element. On its own a block of color is insignificant but seen as part of a whole it becomes dynamic and alive reflecting on how nature works. The phenomenon of light is also important to the work. The light of the sun in a room illuminates and reflects off the paintings as they come alive and change through time.