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Isaac’s story

Isaac’s artwork was first shown publicly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2019. In January 2019, he had his debut solo exhibition at the Chandler House gallery in Cape Town, South Africa.

This year Isaac starts his Culture, Criticism and Curation course at Central Saint Martins.

Isaac’s work began at Halcyon, and has currently moved beyond our campus into a second showing of his ‘Calendar Girls’ exhibition series. He’s sold 12 paintings so far.

My artistic work is strongly rooted in my love of portraiture, and outsider art of the 20th century. Artists like Lee Godie who sold her work on the steps of Chicago Art Museum and street photographer Vivian Maier. Mr work is inspired by a breadth of art history, from Caravaggio’s paintings to Cecil Beaton’s photographs.

Isaac Benigson

Where has your life taken you since leaving Halcyon?

 

People often go travelling in the summer, but for me, I did a lot of preparation reading for my course, and cycled around London when it was empty during lockdown. I painted and prepared for my exhibition, which was very impromptu, but I knew I did want to exhibit, so I took advantage of the timing.

 

How has your Halcyon education prepared you for this?

 

Halcyon really nurtures creativity and although the IB has a clear framework, what Halcyon did was enable me to work within and outside that framework, with full access to all the facilities outside of school hours. Ms. Rees would stay after school to support us, even if we were doing personal work. The school put a lot of effort into making sure the facilities were the best that they could be; the art room is pretty incredible – it had everything – and if it didn’t have something you could get it ordered in.
 

Are you in touch with other Alumni?

 

Yes a few; some people came to visit the exhibition, which was really nice. Martina has started her foundation at City and Guilds, Finn is in San Francisco, Isabel is in Paris, Noah is in The Netherlands and I am still here in London!

 

What was the inspiration for your artwork? What made you choose portraits and this medium?

 

I have quite a few different areas that I want to look at. Looking at ideas of identity, what one’s physical appearance says about a person, playing on different stereotypes. The portraits enabled me to look at lots of different things and leave it open for interpretation by the viewer. It is totally to do with semiotics and anthropology, like clothing and hairstyles, and what the subtext can say about someone.

 

The course I picked is somewhat linked, but it’s not painting. It’s a purely theory-based course.

 

I started coming to the same shop everyday for my coffee during lockdown, because it stayed open, and I asked them if I could use their space to exhibit, and they’d never had an exhibition before; mine was the first one.

 

Can you tell us a bit about the course?

 

I’m still unsure what my course will be like, as the start has been delayed somewhat due to COVID. The campus is a lovely building. I am looking forward to being in a creative space again. The course is about cultural theory, art criticism and curation and the underlying theories that connect the arts together. I think because it’s in Central Saint Martins it will move into various areas such as film, fashion, arts, performing arts.
 

What do you miss the most about Halcyon?

 

It was so nice to go somewhere everyday and have a purpose. I have my exhibition, but it’s not a daily activity. Going to school every day and learning and being part of a community is such a special and unique thing. I’m now looking forward to growing in a new but similar kind of community in my course, and funneling my interests into the work.

 

What’s next?

 

I’m anticipating starting my course; settling into that routine and really giving my absolute best to my work, because there’s no point in wasting time. Especially now after I’ve waited so long, I’ve learned that it’s important to give my full energy and effort to the course, as I hope to do a masters or take a similar further step afterwards.

 

You can view Isaac’s artwork here:
Website:isaacbenigson.com
Instagram: isaacbenigson