Lex Benson-Cooper was formally trained at EIT in Hawkes Bay, completing his Visual Arts Diploma in 1998. However, his painting technique is largely self-taught. Lex draws inspiration from British Modernism and German Expressionism. He has travelled widely in Asia, the Middle East and the USA in addition to spending time in Australia and Europe.
Lex continues to surprise and to challenge his viewers, as his artistic career unfolds and his vision gains momentum. His approach to painting is somewhat intuitive; the paintings evolve through a process of experimentation and retain a feeling of immediacy when finished. Sometimes a social or political commentary comes through in the titling of his work; Lex uses titles as a tool to open new readings of his paintings and sometimes to throw the viewer off the scent entirely. In this sense, Lex’s work can swing between serious agendas and playful tongue-in-cheek humour within the one painting. This humorous edge is can be balanced with dark or unsettling undertones.
Paintings are built up through a series of overlapping layers; creating a thick and textural surface, resulting in a very tactile image. Using mainly oil paint, drawing tools and glossy lacquers these layers are worked back into and over-painted to achieve a unique finish. Lex has the ability to be both experimental and flamboyant in his work whilst knowing at which point to bring the painting to a balanced conclusion. It is this liveliness that makes people linger and contemplate Lex’s work, as there is always something new to be found on closer inspection.
Lex has the ability to freely experiment and change through his work; therefore new pieces are always fresh and engaging. Lex has a strong following in New Zealand and he has work in many private collections as far afield as London, Vancouver, Vienna and Stockholm. He has been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards and had winning entries in the Norsewear Art Awards and Mainland Art Awards. Lex has also been published in ‘Seen This Century, 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists – A Collector’s Guide’. Warwick Brown.