Paul Behnke was born in Memphis, TN and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Memphis College of Art.
Behnke’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally. He has had solo exhibitions in New York, Heidelberg, Philadelphia, Saint Augustine, and Memphis, as well as group shows in San Francisco, Honolulu, London, Dublin, Paphos, Glasgow, The Netherlands and New York.
Behnke’s work has been reviewed in Hyperallergic Weekend, The New Criterion and The New Republic.He has edited Structure and Imagery: A Contemporary Art Blog since 2011 and was the co-director of Stout Projects an exhibition space in Bushwick, Brooklyn from 2015 – 2017.Behnke is currently based in Lambertville, NJ and Brooklyn, NY.
“Movies, comic books and science fiction, religion and mysticism all co-mingle with a formal romantic modernism, in a very literal sense. My new work contains many figurative elements that relate to the intersection of pop culture and spirituality with a special emphasis on the Mystic (used in the colloquial sense) and how it is co-opted by pop culture.
I’m particularly interested in the indoctrination of quasi-spiritual concepts into our personal morality and how we use that to cope with current political challenges. I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian and I spent much of my childhood in Memphis, TN watching classic staples like the Andy Griffith Show and the Big Valley. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that our moral codes are crafted from these early experiences. We develop our ideas of heroes and villains, right and wrong, from this strange mix of traditional myths and popular stories.
I’ve been working through this more additive process through drawings on paper and small paintings, as well as large acrylic works. These new paintings feel more personal and authentic than the more formal, non-objective abstractions I’ve done in the past, as well as more socially relevant as we as a society (and world) grapple with complex issues and our own need for some kind of spiritual or communal grounding.”
One Person Exhibitions
Gary Giordano Projects, Strange Entities, Brooklyn, NY
Boecker Contemporary, The Thing I Came For, Heidelberg, Germany
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, An Awful Rainbow, New York, NY
The Rosenfeld Gallery, Like Giants, Philadelphia, PA
Selected Group Exhibitions
SFA Projects, Tides & Currents, New York, NY
Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Ear to the Ground, curated by Julie Torres, New Haven, CT
The Painting Center, 25th Anniversary Exhibition, New York, NY
LABspace, BIG Holiday Show, Hillsdale, NY
The Painting Center, Surface and Substance, curated by Hester Simpson, New York, NY
PARK, 138 X Nothing But Good, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Michael David Studio/David and Schweitzer Contemporary, True Believers, curated by Daniel John Gadd, Brooklyn, NY
Gary Giordano Projects, Paperworks, Brooklyn, NY
Work Release, Pro Forma: Context and Meaning in Abstraction, curated by Dr. Vittorio Colaizzi, Norfolk, VA
The Curator Gallery, New New York: Abstract Painting in the 21st Century, New York, NY
Kunstverein Brackenheim, ReStatement, Brackenheim, Germany
Flat 3/2, Steal the Show, curated by Jessica Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland
Schmidt und Schütte, ReStatement, Cologne, Germany
Life on Mars, An Occasional Dream, Brooklyn, NY
1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery, Drishti: A Concentrated Gaze, New York, NY
Salena Art Gallery at Long Island University, If Color Could Kill, Brooklyn, NY
Kirk Hopper Fine Art, We Are the Dead, Dallas, TX
Stout Projects, Occo Socko!, Brooklyn, NY
The University of Hawai'i at Manoa, New New York, curated by Debra Drexler and Liam Davis, Honolulu, HI
c2c Project Space, Color as Form/Form as Color, San Francisco, CA
Ground Floor Gallery, Hello Again, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
Centotto, Thrice Legendary, or Forever Then, Brooklyn, NY
Sam and Adele Golden Gallery, Made in Paint, New Berlin, NY
Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Form and Facture: New Painting and Sculpture from New York, Stony Brook, NY
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, Eight Painters, New York, NY
Flecker Gallery at Suffolk County Community College, Temporal Shifts, curated by Matthew Neil Gehring, Selden, NY
16 Wilson, Meta Vista, curated by Matthew Neil Gehring, Brooklyn, NY
Parallel Art Space, What I Like About You, curated by Julie Torres, Queens, NY
Thomas Deans Fine Art, A Web of Artists, Atlanta, GA
A Small Black Door, Heroes, curated by Julie Torres, Queens, NY
Terrace Gallery, The Art is Falling Apart, London, U.K.
Trestle Gallery, Chromophilia, Brooklyn, NY
The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Brucennial 2012, New York, NY
The Drawers Gallery, Done Paint Done, curated by Karl Bielik, London, U.K.
University of Dayton, Faction, Dayton, OH
The Painting Center, Grey Matter, New York, NY
Trestle Gallery, Process: Abstract Painters, Brooklyn, NY
Mass MoCA, An Exchange with Sol Lewitt, North Adams, MA
The Hallward, Summer Invitational, Dublin, Ireland
Artist Talks and Panel Discussions
Trans∙cen∙der, Session- September 2018, Brooklyn, NY, 2018
National College of Art and Design, Dublin Ireland, 2018
Work Release, Pro Forma: Context and Meaning in Abstraction, Norfolk, VA, 2017
The University of Hawai'i at Manoa, New New York, Honolulu, HI, 2015
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, Eight Painters, New York, NY 2014
Flecker Gallery at Suffolk County Community College, Temporal Shifts, Selden, NY 2013