Ben Augustus


Intensively gazing at images of naked playmates in nude magazines, he brings his pen to paper and, slowly but surely, these women fill his page. His manner of working is remarkable, he starts a drawing in one corner and ends up in another. He ignores all the laws and rules of composition, lines start somewhere and stop halfway again. In-between the figures he places apparently arbitrary texts and sex line telephone numbers.

When Ben started in 1994 he was desperately in search of subject matter. We introduced him to new techniques and materials, confronted him with art history and visited galleries.

In 1995, during a working week in Zeeland, we worked on the theme “the elements” (earth, air, water and fire.) Ben didn’t understand a thing. Ben was born with Down’s syndrome. As a child he never learnt to talk well because he was deaf, which makes it difficult to communicate with him. One evening, when everyone was watching TV, Ben found an old well-thumbed Playboy, he grabbed his sketch book and started drawing the women so that he could take them home with him. Since then, it is the only theme which fascinates him and which constantly recurs in his drawings and paintings.

Ben’s working methods have changed in the past few years. In the beginning, he cut pieces out of his drawings and stuck them on new paper, sometimes coloured in with pencil. Countless pages were attentively filled with his drawings, in the rhythm of the pauses which we use at the Atelier. Later, Ben also started painting, mainly in primary colours, directly out of the pot.

A keen fan of the Rotterdam football club Feyenoord, he often appears in the club’s football kit at work. During the holidays he visits amusement parks (such as Disney World, Movie World and the Efteling). He never misses the Dutch soap “Goede tijden slechte tijden” (“good times, bad times”) on the television. All these subjects regularly appear in Ben’s drawings.

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