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Beings from Nether World Are Astounding

From The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 18, 1976
By W. C. Burnett, Jr.

 

The current exhibit at Image South, 1931 Peachtree NE, should tickle the fancy of the many people who and the fantastic themes popular in films and paperback novels.

There are "beings" now on exhibit at Image South which apparently have been plucked from the nether world. The work includes the missed media wood block prints and serigraphs by Ben Smith and bronze sculpture by Bill Ludwig.

Smith's work is very popular here. His huge wood block prints of "ceremonial figures," "Mardi Gras figures," and others, which resemble priests and shamen, sometimes mixtures of human, animal and mechanical forms, are his trademark.

Smith created these figures by printing huge sheets of paper, sometimes in pieces that were later assembled, from large forms cut from plywood.

Now Smith is also painting on those printed images, pasting on additional shapes and generally moving out of the area of making plain woodblock prints. The result is dynamic. The pasted on shapes generally take the form of masks on the figures, which is appropriate. In one case the ornately gowned "Mardi Gras" figure holds masks on sticks in his hand, and again, the masks are pasted onto the image, collage fashion.

That same figure has painted areas. Colors are no longer simple parings of hues, but in this example include a bright cadmium red, green, orange, yellow, black and white.

The images are monumental, which gives the strangely costumed figures an actual physical size with which the viewer compares himself, a factor which adds to the eerie nature of the work. For instance there is "Seated Figure With Ceremonial Sword," in which the weapon is a huge, curved, ornate piece which seems to possess more mystical than physically threatening properties, and the sheer size of the image is a factor. ...