Is it okay to live an extravagant life when our neighbors are hungry and cold?
His art is designed to capture the parallel existence of two separate worlds within one community. He create provocative oil paintings on pieces of hand carved cardboard to communicate the juxtaposition between the economic classes that represent his daily experience.
The cardboard embraces the struggle of the disenfranchised and the remnants that they must make a life from. The intricate oil paintings contain subjects that emulate the opulence I am a witness to. My imagery often reflects figures from high fashion magazines or representations of some of the world’s most expensive meals.
He recently traveled the streets of Connecticut and New York in search of cardboard signs that have been created by the individuals and families that reside there. After an introduction and an exchange of stories he offered to buy the cardboard signs they have created to be used in an art piece.
Their written words become an element in the sculptures and paintings that he design. The cardboard possess a limited life span that will fade and crumble over time. They are an expression of life and death, and the choices we make as we choose to acknowledge or ignore our own sense of humanity.
Here is some of his amazing work.
This piece was created on a sign that Ben Quesnel saw in NYC. Gavin, a young man struggling on the streets, created it to ask for help. After Quesnel and Gavin exchanged stories, Quesnel asked if he could purchase Gavin’s sign for his latest series of art. Quesnel uses Gavin’s words to inspire the piece he paints on top of the cardboard. “We don’t’ have IPhone (unfortunately)” is juxtaposed with a woman taking a ‘selfie’.
This sign is funny but being homeless isn’t… And we don’t have iPhones (Unfortunately)
2. Happy Meal:
Happy meal was designed to resemble early seventeenth century still lifes that were meant to capture a person’s wealth and power. He places symbols within these paintings to represent the briefness of life, which questioned the importance of earthly possessions people had at the time.
Happy meal is the first painting Ben Quesnel designed for his cardboard series. It is an oil painting of NYC’s most expensive ice cream sundae and cheeseburger. The $1000 dollar “Golden Opulence Sundae” is made at the famous serendipity restaurant. It is complete with exotic fruits from Paris, marzipan cherries, gold covered almonds, caviar, chocolate truffles and edible gold. Next to the sundae is NYC’s burger made at the former Wall Street Burger Shoppe. Kobe beef patty, black truffles, seared foie gras, aged Gruyere cheese, and edible gold made this the most expensive burger in the city during the restaurant’s time.
He also strategically placed a mirror in the background of this painting causing you to directly look as yourself. It is a tool for reflection. How do you interpret happiness?
Is it okay for one to spend money on such a lavish lifestyle when you know there are people struggling to eat?
3. All You Can Eat:
All You Can Eat is a colorful painting resembling a dreamlike colossal dessert. This painting was designed to capture innocence of a child; “ignorance is bliss.” It is a playful painting with bright colors and amusing textures. The extreme dessert is made on cardboard to capture the existence of children living in two separate worlds, but within one society. Children are living in their domain, with no knowledge of the world outside of their community.
A child often does not know that there are other people their age going to bed hungry every night.
4. Girl Series:
Woman from high fashion magazines are painted with oils on large hand carved cardboard. Quesnel creates particularly detailed borders on his pieces of art to resemble early decorative frames.
Quesnel purposely leaves out any of the materialistic items in order to question the importance of it. However, the viewer still know the figures in Quesnel’s girls series are living a lavish lifestyle even thought the materialistic items are not visible.
The woman’s eyes are purposely not shown to keep their identity hidden. The paintings are meant to represent an economic class that has the ability to purchase extravagant possessions on a piece of cardboard, which embraces the struggle of the disenfranchised and the remnants that they must make a life from.
We live delusional lives.
Six is a play on gluttony, and one’s desire to consume more than that which one requires. A cheeseburger containing six patties is something no person needs, but there is always someone willing to take on the ‘Man vs. Food’ challenge if the opportunity arose.
Six is made with sharpie on cardboard; the same materials someone on the street might use to communicate their message of hunger. Quesnel specifically places his symbol of gluttony on cardboard to portray the between the economic classes that represent his daily experience.