Congregation

11.06.21 – 23.07.21

Painting is an energy. Not only does Todd Bienvenu know this, he revels in it. In this new series of paintings gathered for the Congregation exhibition at Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, the artist turns up the heat and tears his shirt. 

Todd Bienvenu has never hesitated to fill his paintings with self-mockery. He took us with him to drunken parties by the neighbours' pool. He staged us in our most intimate and almost shameful moments with a very thick and chromatically dense touch. Here, he reopens the doors of concert halls and slams from the stage, carried by a jubilant crowd. 

If live shows allow music to become a collective experience, painting can seem to cling to an elegant egotism. For some, painting is a reflection of itself, born in the silence of the studio. Yet the practice of painting is to perceive a swarming, a crowd screaming behind each brushstroke. His practice demonstrates that there is nothing sequential about time. To paint is simply to listen to the same concert as all those who have painted before us. It is literally propelling yourself into the void, hoping that none of those on the other side will step aside. Todd Bienvenu knows this and that is what he paints in this series. 

Like all music lovers, Todd Bienvenu also perceives this moment of suspension with melancholy. If the studio work allows us to sense the ghosts and enjoy their presence, life is at the door. The artist knows that it is not enough to listen to a live album for the collective energy to carry us. You have to know how to face the world, transcend its weaknesses and contradictions. If all paintings fortunately escape their creator one day or another, the artist must take his place among the crowd like everyone else. 

This strange, unstable and dependent destiny can also have a more introspective and cold counterpart. This is also stated by the pattern repetition in this series of large canvases. I don't know if Todd Bienvenu will like the reference, but I keep thinking when I see this work of the first track on the B-side of the Talking Heads' legendary album More Song about Buildings and Food. At a time when David Byrne is turning punk's energy into absurd despair, this song Artist Only laconically states what could be the haunting fate of contemporary painters: 

« Let's go!
I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning my brain
Pretty soon now I will be bitter
Pretty soon now will be a quitter
Pretty soon now I will be bitter
You can't see it 'til it's finished
I don't have to prove... that I am creative!
I don't have to prove... that I am creative!
All my pictures are confused
And now I'm going to take me to you »

This is a harsh observation and it resonates even more strongly today as the recent period has curtly stated the place that society intended for artists. But, as a counterpoint, with generosity and humour, I am sure that Todd Bienvenu would add that the desire to believe is not dead as long as we allow ourselves to dream of unforgettable moments without shame or morality.  

Samuel Gross
 

Peindre est une énergie. Non seulement Todd Bienvenu le sait, mais il s’en délecte. Dans cette nouvelle série de peintures réunies pour l’exposition Congregation à la Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, l’artiste fait monter le son et déchire son t-shirt. 

Depuis toujours Todd Bienvenu n’hésite pas à gorger sa peinture d’autodérision. Il nous avait entrainé avec lui dans les soirées arrosées au bord de la piscine des voisins. Il nous avait mis en scène dans nos moments les plus intimes et presque honteux sous une touche très épaisse et chromatiquement très dense. Ici, il rouvre les portes des salles de concerts et slame depuis la scène, porté par une foule liesse. 

Si le live permet à la musique de devenir une expérience collective, la peinture peut paraître se cramponner à un égotisme élégant. Pour certains, la peinture ne serait que le reflet d’elle-même, née dans le silence des ateliers. Pourtant, la pratique de la peinture c’est de percevoir un grouillement, une foule hurlant derrière chaque coup de pinceau. Sa pratique démontre que le temps n’a rien de séquentiel. Peindre c’est très simplement écouter le même concert que tous ceux qui ont peint avant nous. C’est donc se projeter littéralement dans le vide, en espérant qu’aucun de ceux de l’autre côté ne s’écarte. Todd Bienvenu le sait et c’est ce qu’il peint dans cette série. 

Comme tous les amateurs de musique, Todd Bienvenu perçoit aussi ce moment de suspens avec mélancolie. Si le travail en atelier permet de percevoir les fantômes et de jouir de leur présence, la vie est à la porte. L’artiste sait qu’il ne suffit pas d’écouter un album live pour que l’énergie collective nous porte. Il faut savoir affronter le monde, transcender ses faiblesses et ses contradictions. Si toutes les toiles échappent heureusement un jour ou l’autre à leur créateur, l’artiste doit lui prendre sa place parmi la foule comme tous les autres. 

Cet étrange destin instable et dépendant, peut aussi avoir un pendant plus introspectif et froid. C’est aussi ce qu’énonce la répétition du motif dans cette série de grandes toiles. Je ne sais pas si Todd Bienvenu aimera la référence, mais je ne cesse de penser en voyant ce travail au premier titre de la face B du mythique album More Song about Buildings and Food des Talking Heads. Au moment où David Byrne transforme l’énergie du punk en un désespoir absurde, cette chanson Artist Only énonce laconiquement ce qui pourrait être le destin lancinant des peintres contemporains : 

« Let's go!
I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning my brain
Pretty soon now I will be bitter
Pretty soon now will be a quitter
Pretty soon now I will be bitter
You can't see it 'til it's finished
I don't have to prove... that I am creative!
I don't have to prove... that I am creative!
All my pictures are confused
And now I'm going to take me to you »

Le constat est dur et résonne encore plus fort aujourd’hui que la période récente a énoncé sèchement la place que la société destinait aux artistes. Mais, en contrepoint, avec générosité et humour, je suis sûr que Todd Bienvenu rajouterait que le désir d’y croire n’est pas mort aussi longtemps que nous nous autoriserons à rêver à des moments inoubliables sans honte, ni morale.  

Samuel Gross

Born in 1980 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Lives and works in New York.


Education

2006-07
New York Studio School, Master of Fine Arts Program, New York, NY 

2005     
New York Studio School, Certificate Program, New York, NY
New York Studio School, Summer Scholarship, Orvieto, Italy 

2003     
Louisiana State University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Baton Rouge, LA 


Solo Exhibitions

2021
Congregation, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, CH

2020     
Halcyon Days, Almine Rech, Shanghai, China

2019     
Dad Bod, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, CH

2018     
Slapstick
, Almine Rech Gallery, London, UK
Jaywalk, Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris, FR

2017     
Solo Show Artissima 2017, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Turin, Italy 
Endless Bummer, Harper’s Books, East Hampton, NY
Water Sports, Yours Mine & Ours Gallery New York, NY

2016     
Dive, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland

2015     
Exile on Bogart Street, Life on Mars Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 

2014     
Borrowing Tomorrow’s Fun, Life on Mars Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 



Group Exhibitions

2021
Summer Group Show, Almine Rech, Aspen, CO
Side Bar, curated by Alicia Gibson, Underdonk, Online         
    
2020    
Walk the Walk benefit, organized by Martha Tuttle and Sarah Faux, Drawer, Online
Come As You Are benefiting GLITs, organized by Daniel Oglander, Online 
Portraits & Some Standing Figures
, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, CH
Auguries of Innocence, Fredericks and Freiser, New York, NY

2019     
Still Life: An Ongoing Story, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, CH
I love Paint, curated by Kim Dorland, Patel Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
Live Size, Slag Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2018     
Ceremonial Exhibition: Work by New Members and Recipients of Awards,
American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York, NY
New “Bad“ Painting, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Harper's Books at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
Tell Him What We Said About “Paint it Black“, Thorne-Sagendorph Gallery, Keene, NH
Paint it Black, 1 Mile Gallery, Kingston, NY

2017     
Nostalgisms, curated by Nick Benfey, Able Baker Gallery, Portand, ME 
Like, curated by Richard Kern, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland
Witches And Dudes, Galleri Kant, Copenhagen, Denmark
Domestic Tranquility, 0-0, Los Angeles, CA 
SOME(BODY), Adam Baumgold, New York, NY
There is nothing I could say that I haven’t thought before, FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY

2016     
Painting in New York
, Leigh Morse Fine Arts, New York, NY
Summer Show, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland 
Todd Bienvenu, Katherine Bradford, Sarah Faux, Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, NY 
Frieze New York, curated by Katherine Bernhardt, CANADA, New York, NY 
Laughing Out Loud, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Momenta Benefit Auction, Momenta, Brooklyn, NY 
Go Figure!, Louis B. James, New York, NY 
Let’s Walk, Cuevas Tilleard, New York, NY 
Painters NYC, MUPO, Oaxaca, Mexico 
Introspective, BravinLee, New York, NY 
Fort, Ess Eff Eff, Brooklyn, NY 
Nation IV, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
All Tomorrow’s Parties, Hathaway David Contemporary, Atlanta, GA

2015     
Painters NYC, Páramo, Guadalajara, Mexico
Holiday Salon, Lesley Heller, New York
Post Hoc Ergo Proctor Hoc, Firework Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Let’s Go Away for Awhile, One Mile Gallery, Kingston, NY
Todd Bienvenu and Clintel Steed, Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, NY 
Summer Invitational, Life on Mars, Brooklyn, NY
Mixtape II, M. David Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Paintings in Trees, People’s Garden, Brooklyn, NY
Thrice Legendary, or Forever Thens, Centotto, Brooklyn, NY
The Guston Effect, Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston MA 
Long Story Short, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Lucky Draw, The Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY 
AiB Bene t 2015, Storefront Ten Eyck, Brooklyn, NY 
Life on Mars Gallery Project Space, Brooklyn, NY
New Work City, Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY
Paperazzi IV, Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 

2014     
Back to the Future II
, Life on Mars, Brooklyn, NY
My Big Fat Painting, Brian Morris Gallery, New York, NY
Full House East, Ethan Pettit Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Full House, David Rich, St Paul, MN
Summer Invitational, Life on Mars Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Suggestion, that is the dream: Arshile Gorky and a selection of contemporary drawings, Outlet, Brooklyn, NY
Drawn Out, Brooklyn, NY
Legend Anew, Centotto, Brooklyn, NY
Underdonk Selects, Underdonk, Queens, NY
No Rules, Brooklyn, NY
Mixtape, No. 4 Studio Brooklyn Fireproof, Brooklyn, NY
AiB Bene t 2014, Storefront Ten Eyck, Brooklyn, NY
Spring Bene t, Novella, New York, NY
Sump Pumped Sentiments, curated by Matt Philips, TSA Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY 
Paparazzi 3, Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Nation II At the Alamo, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 

2013    
Todd Bienvenu and Gili Levy with Katherine Bradford, Valentine Gallery, Ridgewood, NY 
Painting Impossible, Life on Mars, Brooklyn, NY
Scale, Life on Mars, Brooklyn, NY
Duck, Duck, Rabbit: EJ Hauser, Todd Bienvenu and Kelly McRaven, curated by 
Mike Olin and Joy Curtis, Brooklyn, NY 
Ethan Pettit Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 
Triangle Art Bene t, Brooklyn, NY 

2012     
Art=Mixx, New York 
BOS, New York 
Team Varet, New York 
GO Brooklyn, New York

2011     
Northside Brooklyn Arts Festival, New York 

2010     
Nude With a Goose, New York 
Pretty Young Things, New York

2009     
Cinema Back Room, Public Assembly, Brooklyn, NY 
Si Ves Algo Di Algo, 345 Eldert, Brooklyn, NY
27 Group Show, Goette Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
New York Studio School Alumni Show, juried by Sean Scully, New York, NY 

2008     
BOS, Brooklyn, NY
Art Party 3, Supreme Trading, Brooklyn, NY 

2007     
Thesis Show, New York Studio School, New York
Battling Insanity With a Paintbrush, Gaelle Bertrand and Todd Bienvenu,
New York Studio School Student Gallery, New York
Girls With Guns, New York Studio School Student Gallery, New York 

2003     
Todd Bienvenu, Studio B, Little Rock, AR 



Selected Biography

2020
“Todd Bienvenu - Stories within Stories“, Yaniv, Etty. Art Spiel.

2017     
DIVE, monograph published by Galerie Sébastien Bertrand and innen, 30 pp. 2017
Hutson Hunter Laura, “A Gifted Painter Fills Canvases With Whatever He Wants, Including Dog Poop“, VICE (July 5, 2017) [ill.] [online] 
Two Coast Staff, “On elephant dick: A conversation between Todd Bienvenu and Cynthia Daignault“, Two Coast of Paint (April 18, 2017) [ill.] [online] 
Christina Forrer, “What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week“, The New York Times (April 13, 2017) [ill.] [online] 
Bahn, Jenny. “In the Studio with Todd Bienvenu.” alphasixty (February 8, 2017) [ill.] [online] 

2016     
Neuendorf, Henri. “10 Emerging Artists to Keep on Your Radar“. Artnet News, (November 21, 2016) [ill.] [online]
Martinique, Elena. “Cuevas Tilleard Welcomes a Group of Diverse Artists Exploring Figurative Art.”WIDEWALLS.ch (March 18, 2016) [ill.] [online]
New American Paintings #122. (February / March)
Burns, Emily. “Q&A with Todd Bienvenu.” Maake Magazine [ill.] [online]

2015     
Keeting, Zachary. “Todd Bienvenu at Life on Mars, Nov 2015.”
Gorky’s Granddaughter (November 21, 2015) [ill.] [online]
Ebony, David. “David Ebony’s Top Ten New York Gallery Shows for October.” Artnet news (October 23, 2015) [ill.] [online]
Micchelli, Thomas. “The Other Side of Portraiture.” Hyperallergic (July 11, 2015) [ill.] [online] 
Sutton, Benjamin. “Making Sense of Painting That Tells Snippets of Stories.” Hyperallergic (April 15, 2015) [ill.] [online] 
Mylott Manning, Laura. “Interview with Painter Todd Bienvenu.” Artefuse (April 29, 2015) [ill.] [online] 
Rickert, Rachel. “Todd Bienvenu: Alumni Spotlight Interview.” The New York Studio School Blog (October 14, 2015) [ill.] [online]
“Iron & Wine ad Ben Bridwell.” Philadelphia City Paper (June, 2015) [online] 

2014     
Vartanian, Hrag. “Your Concise Guide to 2014 Bushwick Open Studios.” Hyperallergic (May 28,2014) [online]
Munro, Cait. “New York Gallery Beat: Summer Drawing Shows.” Artnet (June 28, 2014) [online] 
“The Best of Brooklyn: The 100 Best and Worst Things to Happen This Year.” The L Magazine (July 30, 2014) [online]
Edmonds, Brian. “A Conversation with Todd Bienvenu.” Figure/Ground (August 1,2014) [online] 
Schwendener, Martha. “Chasing a Dream and an Unalloyed Ethos: A Critic’s Picks in Brooklyn, an Embattled Utopia.” The New York Times (April 3,2014) [ill.]
Sutton, Benjamin. “Yes, More Brooklyn Gallerists You Need to Know.” Artnet (March 5,2014) [online]
Samet, Jennifer. “Beer with a Painter: Todd Bienvenu.” Hyperallergic (September 27, 2014) [ill.] [online] 

2013     
Kirsch, Corrina. “Week One: Overrated, Underrated Exhibitions.” Art F City (Nov. 5, 2013) [ill.] [online] 
Egan, H.P. “Bushwick Open Studios 2013.” Art Observed (June 6, 2013) [ill.][online]
D’Agostino, Paul. “Brooklyn Art in 2013: What to Watch.” The L Magazine (January 2, 2013) [online] 
Mair, Moray. “Todd Bienvenu’s Paintings Are of A Dirty Voodoo World.” Mutantspace (September 30,2013) [ill.] [online]

2012     
Butler, Sharon. “Brooklyn Museum Go: Bushwick short list.” Two Coats of Paint (Aug.21, 2012) [ill.] [online] 

2011     
Vartanian, Hrag. “A Hot and Colorful Day on the Northside.” Hyperallergic (June 23, 2011) [ill.] [online] 
Sutton, Benjamin. “Northside Photos: India Street Arts Festival and Day Two of Northside Open Studios.” The L Magazine (June 20, 2011) [ill.] [online]