“Leafless Trees and Sakura”

Installation view from “Leafless Trees and Sakura” at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, 2007 ©Benjamin Butler photo by Tsuyoshi Satoh


Benjamin’s works commonly features landscapes with some contemporary meaning . The way he paints sometimes looks conspicuously like that of abstract art, though he chooses the nature as his main motif. The paintings represent the imagined scenery — at the same time, the composition operated as decorative geometrical pattern gives viewers calm, meditative time.
His recent works with the trees are filled with more abstract elements. The rhythmical repeat of the line and color field covers all surface of tableau. We can even find the history of abstract expressionism, starting from the rhythm of horizontal and vertical by Piet Mondrian, moving to enthusiasm for “all over” by Color Field painters, and finally more restricted shape by Frank Stella. Meanwhile, the pale color is sometimes like psychedelia, and the flat, plain stroke reminds us of the present progressive New Painting like Alex Katz.


Tracing the boundary between abstract and narrative, Benjamin still works upon our feelings and memories. The installation is also unique — this time new works, six paintings and dimensional installation will be displayed. You can see the Sakura (cherry blossom) tree painting on far wall, with pale fuchsia mass as full bloom cherry blanches, and the blue-backed decorative trees ones surrounding Sakura like a mysterious labyrinth. The small cut canvases are scattered like the flower petals on the stage. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to take petals home with them. We hope that you will enjoy this opportunity to see Benjamin Butler’s latest enchantment.

Artist Biography

Benjamin Butler was born in Kansas, in 1975. After graduated Emporia State University, Kansas in 1997, he received a Masters degree in Fine Art from The School of Art Institute Chicago in 2000. Now he is based in New York. This exhibition marks his second exhibition at Tomio Koyama Gallery in four years, while he keeps on having solo shows in several cities around the world, such as New York, Los Angels, Toronto, Vienna, Basel and Berlin. He has also participated in various group exhibitions — recent group show was “Greater New York”, held at P.S.1. in New York, in 2005.

Artist Profile

Benjamin Butler

Benjamin Butler was born in Westmoreland, Kansas, USA in 1975. He received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000 and currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Butler continues to exhibit in solo shows in cities around the world, such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Vienna, Basel, Beijing, and Berlin. Significant solo exhibitions in recent years include “Two-Tones, Monochromes, and Other Landscapes”(Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, 2020), “Silver/Landscapes” (Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, 2019), “Recent Trees and Monochromes” (Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna, 2018) and “Trees Alone” (Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, 2016). He has also participated in various group exhibitions, internationally, including “sotto voce” (curated by Robert Bordo, Bortolami Gallery, New York, 2019), “Verzweigt” (Museum Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg, Germany, 2014), and PS1/MOMA’s Greater New York in 2005, and “Globe as a Palette; Contemporary Art from The Taguchi Art Collection” Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art/Kushiro Art Museum/Hakodate Museum of Art/Sapporo Art Museum, Hokkaido, Japan.

Butler creates landscape paintings that are structured around the motifs of mountains, trees and nature. The simplified forms of branches and tree trunks expressed through vertical lines, diagonals, triangular forms and curves are rhythmically reiterated and occupy the entirety of his margin-less canvases in a manner reminiscent of a geometric pattern. Such are complemented through his use of vivid contrasting colors, creating a unique painterly expression that appears to explore the borderline between representation and abstraction.

His works, while harboring various elements in terms of composition, at the same time permeate with a simple and poetic tenderness, as well as an air of contemporary cool. As though appealing to individual memories, they confer upon viewers a time for calm contemplation.

  • Installation view from "Leafless Trees and Sakura" at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2007 ©Benjamin Butler photo by Tsuyoshi Satoh
  • Installation view from “Leafless Trees and Sakura” at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, 2007 ©Benjamin Butler photo by Tsuyoshi Satoh
  • Installation view from “Leafless Trees and Sakura” at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, 2007 ©Benjamin Butler photo by Tsuyoshi Satoh