Sightlines: Ben Aronson

Jenkin Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, is thrilled to present Sightlines, Ben Aronson’s sixth solo exhibition with the gallery. Ben states, “While we now move ahead, beyond a difficult year which forced and challenged us to confront serious threats and loss of many types, we must also remember that we can choose not to allow optimism to be counted a casualty.” “Sightlines” refers to this new group of paintings which celebrate the beauty of the visible world, the light and directions toward which we can choose to direct our view, in balance and apart from the negative. Saturday, May 15th’s opening reception will include a Virtual Exhibition Walk-through via Instagram with Ben Aronson in dialogue with Karen Jenkins-Johnson at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT. The exhibition will be on view through July 2, 2021 at Jenkins Johnson at Minnesota Street Project.


“These paintings continue and extend my exploration of cities as portraits of our collective selves, yet it is the aesthetic of light which plays the leading role, a subject in itself, in the hope of providing a sight line for the viewer to reconnect with the beauty, inspiration, and mystery of our visible world”. – Ben Aronson


Ben Aronson, recognized as one of America’s most respected and evocative painters of the urban landscape, received his BFA and MFA from the School of Fine Arts, Boston University where he studied under contemporary masters Philip Guston and James Weeks. They introduced Aronson to the Bay Area Figurative painters.


Aronson synthesizes the gestural energy of emotionally charged abstract expressionist brushwork with the observational precision of contemporary realism. Building from studies created en plein air, Aronson’s specificity and attention to light and shadow, transport his viewer to a precise location and moment in time. Foundational to Aronson’s work is his innate ability to capture light and the ways in which light varies between and within the cities he visits. With the influence of Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud, Aronson’s painterly texture, lush color palette, and aerial perspectives create a palpable sense of his landscapes without sacrificing their stunning geometric compositions.


Sun on the Bay beautifully provides the viewer with the opportunity to reconnect with the aesthetic inspiration of the world around us. With a clear line to the Bay, we are transported to a sunny day in the city, filled with possibilities. Through deliberate control of the composition, Aronson guides your eye down a street to the expansive horizon in the distance. It is in this space we feel the hope and anticipation of the unknown. Aronson captures a quiet moment on a street corner, void of human movement. There is a calm and a stillness in the sunny air. Aronson’s attention to light and shadow transport his viewer to a precise location and an exact moment in time, from early morning in the Hollywood Hills to late afternoon in SoHo.


Aronson’s use of light and color demonstrates his range as he depicts cities and neighborhoods with specific atmospheric moods. Aronson’s ability to capture fleeting moments results in paintings that echo this serendipitous spontaneity: they appear instantaneous, and conceal the artist’s time-intensive process of meticulously building their compositions. Morning Over Mason provides a grand view of the Bay and the city. We see hints of cars buzzing by in the distance, the day just starting or perhaps just ending. One can imagine themselves as the viewer gazing out a window or from a rooftop, taking in the inspiring surroundings. This past year many of us experienced our world through the portal of a window, looking out and yearning to interact with the beauty of our world. Aronson’s paintings are a reminder of the spaces we miss, the spaces we long to inhabit safely again and provide hope and anticipation for the future.


Ben Aronson is a member of the highly acclaimed National Academy, alongside Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and his mentor, Philip Guston. Aronson is the recipient of a Childe Hassam Purchase Prize from the National Academy of Arts and Letters and a Pleissner Memorial Award for Painting from the National Academy of Design. His work is in the collections of over fifty museums including: the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Detroit Institute of Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, De Young Museum San Francisco, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, National Academy Museum in New York, New Orleans Museum of Art and Takaoka Art Museum Japan. Ben Aronson lives and works in Massachusetts. Jenkins Johnson has represented him since 2001.