Leonard Benson was born in 1947 in Hobart, Tasmania and spent his early years as a draftsman for the Public Service. His meticulous attention to design that is a feature of his work stems from this period. He began to seriously paint and exhibit in 1990.
Leonard consciously avoided the academic approach offered by the art school and instead studied with the Danish Artist Kurt Olsson. Initially influenced by the Italian Artist Modigliani, Leonard concentrates on the female form, minimalising his images while still retaining their strong emotional content.
Essentially self taught, Benson has provoked discussion with his unconventional subject matter (he specialises in the human form), dramatic, expressionistic style, uninhibited, spontaneous and individual use of colour and composition. Leonard paints using oil paints and, when combined with the dark frames he frequently uses to surround his paintings, their impact is further heightened. Since 1991, he has exhibited his paintings in many solo exhibitions in Tasmania and Queensland. He now has a big following for his “women” paintings of the female form characterised by their long necks, their aura of mystery, their elegance and the sensuous quality they evoke.
About his current exhibition Benson states:
Life is a mask, an entertainment in which we present various images of ourselves to the world around us. The faces that we wear in our daily lives are carefully crafted to hide or disguise our inner vulnerability. This exhibition presents a range of images that outwardly reflect strength, confidence, indifference and seduction depending on the mask that is being worn. The women look at us with a cool surety seemingly unconcerned about our scrutiny. But, if we look closer we feel, more than we see the inner-being, the person within. Those very thoughts that lay hidden beneath the veil.
—Leonard Benson, 2011
2011 Jackman Gallery, Melbourne
2008 Jackman Gallery, Melbourne
2006 Balance, Strickland Gallery
2005 Shades, Tasmanian Gallery
2003 Femme, Saddlers Court Gallery
2001 Addictions, Cleveland House Gallery
1999 Les Femme 2, Red Chapel Gallery
1998 Looking for Uluru, The Oast House
1996 Nocturne, Strickland Gallery
1995 Benson’s Women, Sidewalk Gallery
1995 Shakespeare, The Church Studio
1994 Street Life, Gallery Above, Rockhampton QLD
1994 Anzacs, The Church Studio
1993 Les Femme, Mr Wooby's
1992 Seedy Side, Blue Bell Inn
1992 Who’s Who, Peppercorn Gallery
1991 Still in That Space, Kookaburra Gallery
1991 Between Caricature and Portraiture, Lady Franklin Gallery