Ben Sledsens’ Two Trees

Bird and Fish, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
210 x 170 cm

All images are Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp.

Ben Sledsens’ paintings are sweetly naive, both in subject and in style. When I first saw “Before the Crow Crows” at NADA last year, I found it odd an old, maybe deceased, outsider artist was being showcased at a fair for the up-and-coming. Sledsens, 27-years-old, fooled me. His straight-from-the-tube colours, paired with cute-faced animals, mimics the work of Maude Lewis, the famous Naive painter who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. There’s something disturbing about the fact that Sledsens has appropriated a genre of painting that isn’t exactly for him, yet his paintings make me happy, the same way Rousseau’s jungle scenes make me happy. Sledsens is having a nice time; he makes happy paintings. His work is an ongoing narrative of a very sweet tale, one infused with intimate moments—inside jokes, glimpses of his beautiful, blonde fashion designer girlfriend. 

Sledsens’ work in Two Trees, currently on view at Tim Van Laere Gallery, is strong, vivid, and humorous. The highlight of the show is The Battle, which seems to share the same sense of humour as Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick’s endearing drama-comedy about man’s futility. See Two Trees at TVL Gallery, Antwerp, until October 20th. -Claire Milbrath


The Landscape Painter, 2018
oil, acrylic and spraypaint on canvas, diptych
200 x 150 cm, 200 x 190 cm

Jaguar in the Jungle, 2018
oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas
210 x 180 cm

Girl in the Yellow Flower Dress, 2018
oil, acrylic and spraypaint on canvas
200 x 150 cm

The Knight in the Night, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
200 x 185 cm

The Battle, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas, triptych
200 x 480 cm