Artist Benji Alexander Palus strives to capture the essence of the “muses” that he paints. Please visit his website to see more of his passionate and moving artwork.
When asked what kind of artwork I do (depending on the formality of the occasion), I’ll either give the rehearsed answer, “I’m a figurative artist, working in the style of Realism,” or the looser reply, “I paint women.” Neither response quite explains what I do.
I find passion in intimacy. I don’t just paint “women”; strangers hold little interest for me beyond a passing appreciation for surface beauty. My inspiration is sparked by the trust, affection, and intuitive connections of close friendship.
Yet what makes a friend into a muse is something more. I have found many female friends over the past twenty years, but I’ve painted few of them. My current muses number fewer still. It’s not because some are more pretty, or more kind, strong, or intelligent.
I am moved to pick up the brush for the outsiders, the misunderstood, the suffering; women whose lives have been shaped by disaster, betrayal, hardship, and yet shaped into something beautiful.
They are risk takers; daring, unaffected. They know themselves because they have been tested in ways that most people never are. If five friends are laughing together, I want to share the story of the one whose laughter is most dearly bought.
In this way I can explore and create something more than myself; better. The masculinity of my own nature bores me, but in delving into my own perceptions of the feminine struggle and ideals, I find a subject eternal in its mysteries, its nobility, its fallibility and resilience, and its capacity for love.
I also love to examine these qualities through the nuances of a muse’s setting: light, shape, location, color. I love that a portrait of a face before a plain gray wall can be as powerful as that of a ballet dancer in flight.
An image of a woman simply reading a book or working a crossword can be as moving as a goddess on a mountaintop.
I am currently enjoying the exploration of different settings through what will hopefully (over the next several years) become a series of exhibitions dedicated to traveling. Paintings of faraway places have always moved me, a joy I now hope to share with others.
Last year I shot with a muse throughout Ireland (my favorite image a toss-up between her trekking up the road to the Skellig Cliffs in a storm, and an intimate moment sipping wine in the warmth of a hotel room in Tralee). In just over a month I’m leaving with another muse to explore New Zealand, and I’ll be heading to Italy with another next year. I’m incredibly excited by so much possibility ahead!
Artist Benji Alexander Palus invites you to follow him on Facebook.
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