A Lover by Ben Spiers

“A Lover is an expression of my on-going preoccupation with the ambivalence and ambiguity of the ’inner-life’. It’s getting harder and harder to feel like the monarch of one’s psyche. My sense of solidity is constantly being reshaped, threatened, and enlarged by the tidal wash of virtual possibility flowing from my phone. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though – one’s just got to improvise, like a surfer carving a line through a lumpy wave. My instincts tell me what to grab: some glassy tears, glossy lips, backlit hair – and the deeper mystery of painting transforms them; makes them truly belong to each other, and, just for a second, holds back the tide to reveal something more elemental – something that sticks, gluey in the mind; like an uncanny rock that’s only revealed on the very lowest of tides.”

– Ben Spiers

Ben Spiers Testimony

“I made the slightly crazy decision to drive to Matera from London. I set off from London 20 hours after crawling home, elated, but exhausted, from the opening of my solo show at Carl Kostyal gallery.

I had been working in a fever the weeks leading up to the opening and wasn’t entirely in my right mind. As the miles ticked away and I wiggled over the passes of the Alps,  Northern Europe began to disappear and the roads were flanked by flowering Oleander bushes and Cyprus trees. The browner and hotter it got, the further I felt from the red-eyed midnights in my London studio.

The masseria itself is one of those buildings that owns the landscape. It sits on the edge of a plateau and the landscape drops and waves away to the horizon in a series of dramatic swoops.

The light is extraordinary. During the day it can be almost painfully bright, with a whitish haze, but as the evening comes on it takes on a crystalline clarity and a surprising warmth.

The enormous warehouse/studio is a really atmospheric place to work. It damps the heat and light to manageable levels and the muffled sounds of people swimming in the pool is great background music.

I found it a really easy place to slip into my work and the hours flew. I managed to finish the underpainting on 6 pictures, produce numerous drawings and even do some writing. My time there felt charmed, and work flowed out in an effortless way.

Fausta and her brother Gia-Lo are the most astonishing hosts. Within hours it felt as if we’d been friends for life, and after the month I knew that they are people to whom I will always feel close. They are generous, creative, funny and loving; as warm as the landscape in which they live.

The long evenings of talking, talking, more talking, card games, occasional dancing, drinking of ‘papa Joseph’  and one post midnight 5k run through the fields were some of the most pleasurable of my life.

Anyone lucky enough to spend time on this magical residency will have something wonderful to look back on, but more importantly, they’ll have friends for life in one of the most beautiful places in Europe.”