24-year old painter Scott D. Benites takes his art to interesting places using a fun mixture of photorealism and theriocephaly — a fancy word for replacing a human’s head by that of an animal’s. In doing so, he creates his own world of fiction within a world of real life daily events.
Born and raised in New York, Benites first fell in love with art in an after school mentorship program at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). There, he and a small group of other students were taught painting and sculpting skills by art directors and curators.
“I loved it,” said Benites as he remembered some of the assignments he had to complete during the MoMA mentorship program. “After that,” he continued, “one of the teachers and I built a relationship and she helped me apply for colleges. I wasn’t even aware of the private colleges that were out there like Pratt, which I attended, and the Art Institute of Boston. Her mentorship helped me gain a higher skill in my craft, which I’m still constantly improving.”
While many of his pieces serve as his reactions to cultural moments — from Ferguson to 9/11 — other pieces use photorealism to depict his perceptions. For instance, the painting Natural Selection depicts what appears to be two women in a pool, one with the head of a snake and one with the head of a deer, meant to symbolize the aggressive and docile women that he believes dominate American society.
When asked how he would paint himself on canvas, Benites stated that he could see himself as grizzly bear “because of their quiet, aggressive nature.”
“But they still look cute at the same time,” he added.
As for his future aspirations, Benites hopes to one day exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. “It’s one of my favorite galleries,” he said. “I just love the atmosphere as soon as you walk in there, and their status is like, through the roof. It’s one of the most prestigious galleries in New York City.”
To see more of Scott D. Benites’ work, click here.
WORDS BY Dana Gibbs