I confess: When I first looked at promotional images from Benjamin Cook’s solo exhibition at Pique, they didn’t do much for me. But that changed when I saw them in person. Cook has built up the surfaces of these paintings with mounds of paper pulp spread out in thick layers, twisting and snaking like psychedelic gordian knots. The pulp’s texture catches the light, and the muted colors seem to glow from within.
Staring into “Monday Morning News” is like chewing on a delicious glob of sour gummy worms. In “Bite From The Woods of Indiana,” the artist builds up the edges of the snaking lines like guardrails on a handmade Mario Kart track. Painted shadows add virtual depth to dashed marks over the surface; with the real shadows, it’s like looking at a 3D Magic Eye, but without having to cross your eyes.
These paintings are fun to look at and a nice reminder that the world as it appears on a screen is different from how it appears in person. Instagram is a neat way to look at art, but without seeing it directly, you don't know what you’re missing.
Benjamin Cook: Paper Pulp Painting is on view at Pique (210 W. Pike St, Covington) through Jan. 30; closing reception 7:13 to 10:13 p.m. More info: piquewebsite.com.