Benjamin Barretto works across the mediums of painting, sculpture, performance, installation, and sound. Often driven by his direct and immediate response to materials, an inventive collaboration between medium and process is evident in some form across all of his works. Barretto was born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1985. He graduated with a BA and Honours from Curtin University in 2010 and was selected as a visiting scholar to the École Nationale Supérieur d’Art in Dijon, France. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
How did your interest in art begin? My earliest memory of seeing an artwork that I liked was a kinetic sculpture in a suburban shopping centre in Perth, Western Australia. I would probably have been around five or six and I never knew who made it or that it was even ‘art’. A few of years ago while I was researching how to make a screw lift I found a Youtube video of the work and it was by George Rhoads, I guess something had stuck.
How long have you lived in Los Angeles and what brought you there? I’ve been living in Los Angeles for just over two years now. When I was studying at an art school in Dijon, France I had some good conversations with the artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz. When I mentioned that I was thinking about moving out here and he told me to do it, he said ‘go west, son’, so I did.
How has living in Los Angeles affected your art practice? Sourcing materials is much easier and cheaper than in Australia so that has definitely influenced my work simply because I have more options.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. Usually my work is based around tweaking a material and its inherent properties…so I guess its a process of finding a material or an object that I can see something in and then the work kind of develops from there.
Who is your ideal studio mate? Someone rich who doesn’t make art and is out of town all the time but pays for the studio.
Describe your current studio or workspace. My studio is a warehouse space in downtown Los Angeles. Pretty standard really…a work bench and some tools with a bunch of materials laying around…and some concrete sculptures I made that are too heavy to move anywhere.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the world to be? Perth beaches, in Western Australia.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? At my recent show in Perth, Australia a group of seven or eight giggling, slightly drunk, middle aged Moms from the local book club came and told me that my work had inspired them to paint and then wanted a group photo with me. That’s probably the best.