The use of oil paint was perfected in the Northern Renaissance and has been the medium of choice for serious painters ever since. Acrylic paint, an invention of the mid-20th century, has been gaining in popularity, but even it is often used in ways which attempt to imitate the effects of traditional oils. That is definitively NOT the case with the work of painter Ben Darby. His current show, now at Bryan Ohno in Pioneer Square, uses acrylic paint to do things that Rembrandt or Velazquez would have never dreamed of, and the results are sometimes startling. Here with our review is KUOW art critic, Gary Faigin.
Shiny, madcap, over the top. A Ben Darby painting confronts the viewer with all the subtlety of a slap in the face, all the restraint of Mardi Gras. In Darby’s work, acrylic paint, far from meekly masquerading as oil paint lite, glitters and glows like the plastic it is, garish and uninhibited in illustrating a wide range of colorful artistic fancies.