Keith & the others
This work is part of a series by the artist that depicts men with beards. For the artist, beards are both powerful and a way for men to hide; they are a protective disguise, a layer of facial fiction.
Benjamin Weissman started making drawings of bearded men after drawing hundreds of cabins, shacks, cottages and lean-tos. For the artist, the cabins were empty—haunted and people-less—and evoked pent-up emotions, sexual intrigue, secrets and loneliness. The drawings of bearded men seemed to Weissman like a natural progression from the cabins. If the huts suggested narratives, then the drawings of rural-looking men with beards were possible characters in these possible narratives.
For visual inspiration, Weismann looked at photographs of bearded writers he was reading: Ibsen, Darwin, Melville, Shaw and Ginsberg. The artist also used friends and students as models, as well as actors like Gene Hackman who wore a beard in Young Frankenstein.
About this series, Weissman says: A skier friend looked at one of my drawings and said, 'It’s easier to draw a face with a beard than a face with no beard, is that true?' The question made me laugh. A drawing’s degree of difficulty was part of its power."
Benjamin Weissman frequently uses conceptual frameworks and repeated visual motifs to create his paintings, drawings and sculptures. A prolific writer, the artist’s work sometimes combines fantastically colored pictorial space with textual elements drawn from a variety of sources. Weissman’s compositions explore and deconstruct myths, reframing viewers’ understanding of common objects and everyday practices.