I am a Santa Fe-based artist of Hispanic background who has developed a career exhibiting both in the US and Europe. Being exposed to theater as a child (my parents had a very successful flamenco dance troupe) and to the sensibilities of my Spanish father, I began painting emulating the great Spanish masters such as Goya and Velázquez. I later discovered Caravaggio and the work his followers--my first body of paintings had distinct tenebrist sensibilities, which highlighted the luminosity of the flesh and psychology of the characters in theater-like settings.
I then became fascinated with the Fayum portraits, and for a number of years did a great deal of research on the ancient methods of the Greek and Egyptian painters. I learned how to use the heated wax technique of encaustic to paint portraits. I then created various bodies of work centered on contemporary portraits of people using an ancient method and approach.
I lately developed a project called, “Doña Inés Lost Her Slipper”, which was inspired my own family history of growing up in a multi-ethnic household of Europeans and Native Americans. It is a project centered on the fictional story of a Spanish aristocrat who travels to the New World and is presented with a Native American maidservant. I ran a successful kickstarter campaign for it, and it was exhibited at Santa Fe’s premier space for alternative art projects—the Santa Fe Community College Visual Arts Gallery, with much press interest. It then traveled during the summer of 2015 to the Palazzo Nicolaci in Noto, Sicily. A catalog was produced in conjunction with the show.
The main themes in my work are a focus on the recuperation of Old Master techniques and approaches, with a heightened awareness of contemporary art. I enjoy juxtaposing art styles from various periods to highlight the political contexts, gender roles, and psychological realities of the various human subjects I paint. I use historical pigments and materials to excavate the past, and make statements about our own place in history at this time of upheaval and inexorable change.
Benitez’ work is included in numerous private collections, some high-profile, such as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s, throughout the United States, as well as in France, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, etc. His work is on permanent display at the New Mexico State Legislature’s public art collection, as well as at the National Hispanic Culture Center and the Conseil Général de l’Aveyron in France. He has lectured on painting of the baroque period, as well as having his work featured on the covers of various books and publications.
Recipient of the Santa Fe Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2016.
Recipient for La Vendéenne Award for Excellence in Encaustic Painting, 2014.
Bachelor of Arts of Fine Arts, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 1991. Semester of graduate-level independent study (Painting), University of New Mexico (1992). Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Granada, Spain (1990-1991). New York University, Dept. of Art History (1989). Art Student’s League, New York (1987-1988). St. John’s College (Philosophy), Santa Fe, NM (1985-1987).
SELECTED ONE-ARTIST EXHIBITIONS
2018 "Doña Inés Perdio' su Zapatilla", Royal Botanical Gardens, Madrid, Spain.
2017 "Le Portrait re-figuré", Musée Art et Histoire, Bormes-les-Mimosas, France
2016 "Sum Ergo Sum", William Havu Gallery, Denver.
"Anamorfosi", Montevergini, Syracuse, Italy.
2015 “RI/SCATTI”, Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Italy, curated by Vincenzo Medica.
2014 “Doña Inés Lost Her Slipper”, Santa Fe Community College Arts Gallery
2012 “Vulnerabilities”, Destiny Allison Fine Art, Santa Fe
2011 “Ut Pictura Poesis”, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe.
“Ancient Voices Through Modern Eyes”, Art Center Design College, Albuquerque, NM.
2010 “Ancient Voices Through Modern Eyes”, R&F Gallery, Kingston, NY.
“Encaustiques”, Abbaye de Fontmorigny, France.
2009 “Imago Temporis”, Aci Castello, Italy, curated by Sabina Corsaro.
2008 “Ekfrasi”, Galleria Quadrifoglio, Syracuse, Italy. (held in conjunction with Festival of Ancient Greek Theater)
“Dionisiaca”, Capella Bonjauto, Catania, Italy, curated by Sabina Corsaro.
2007 “De Effige Animi”, Studio Barnum, Noto, Sicily.
2006 “Tra mito e storia”, Monastero del Ritiro, Siracusa, Italy (held in conjunction with Festival of Ancient Greek Theater)
2005 “Tempus Temporis”, Art & Industry, Santa Fe, NM.
2004 Red Box, Barjols, France (catalog).
2003 “The Bacchae”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
“Recent Works”, Chase Gallery, Boston, MA.
2002 “Mediterraneo”, Galleria d’arte Il Sagittario, Messina, Italy (catalog).
“Pompeii Series”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
2001 “Le Rouge et le Noir”, Aumônerie St-Jacques, Gordes, France
Chase Gallery, Boston, MA.
1999 “The Figure: From Color to Line”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
1998 Chase Gallery, Boston, MA.
“An Art Alphabet”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
1997 “The Senses”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
“Dialogues”, Galerie Sainte-Catherine, Rodez, France (with Lucille Colin).
1996 “Female Allegorical Portraits”, Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
1994 “From Figurative to Abstract”, Santa Fe Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM.
1993 “Portraits”, 8th Street Gallery, Albuquerque, NM.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2016 “Effimera”, Palazzo Rau, Noto, Italy, curated by Vincenzo Medica
2012 “The Future of the Past”, Boston Center for the Arts, curated by Barb Cone & Harriette Chenkin.
2011 “Polemically Small”, Garboushian Gallery, Los Angeles, curated by E. Lucie-Smith.
“New Views of Encaustic Painting”, Keene State College, NH, curated by Peter Roos
2010 “Waxing Poetic”, Hewitt Gallery of Art, New York
“Imperium” Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, organized by Thomas Howe PhD and Edward Lucie-Smith
2009 “Figurations II”, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe.
“Director’s Choice”, Chase Gallery, Boston.
2008 “Women of Bagdad and Prisoners and Deserts”, with Michele Ciacciofera, Chapelle des Pénitants, Gordes, France.
2006 “Migrazioni” (important collective of Mediterranean artists), Siracusa, Italy (catalog).
“La Visione Negata”, L’Arco e la Fonte, Siracusa, Italy (catalog).
“The Figure”, Cline Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ.
2004 “The Figure”, Cline Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ.
2002 “Nostalgia: il paradiso ritrovato”, Chiostro di San Francesco, Sorrento, Italy.
2001 “The Death of Painting”, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM; curated by Guy Ambrosino and Jon Carver.
2000 “Sanctified or Censored”, Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, NM; curated by Monica Steinhoff.
“Un ensemble d’artistes”, Galerie Thuillier, Paris, France.
“Revealing the Nude”, Chase Gallery, Boston, MA (catalog).
1999 “Realism ‘99”, Van de Griff Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
1998 “Ida y Vuelta: Twelve New Mexico Artists”, Musée Denys-Puech, Rodez, France.
“Faces of Woman”, Las Vegas Arts Council, Las Vegas, NM.
“MICRO-Exhibition”, Galleri COLON, Borås, Sweden.
1997 “Figure and Fantasy”, Chase Gallery, Boston, MA (catalog).
1995 “Biennale Méditerranéenne de la Jeune Peinture”, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France (catalog).
“Salon d’Octobre”, Association Espace Montauriol, Montauban, France.
1994 “Visions of Excellence VIII”, Fine Arts Gallery, Albuquerque, NM.