When I meet Ben Skinner, he and Back Gallery Project proprietor Monica Reyes are debating the pros and cons of leaving the mechanism of his ascending-Crayola-infinity-mirror exposed or concealed. His manner, improbably, is at once both deeply serious and exuberantly joyful. Thinking hard, his brow furrows over his oversize glasses before his face opens suddenly into a new idea’s delight. It’s a microcosm of character that I see mirrored in the responses of viewers who cram into his opening reception the Thursday evening after our meeting. (“I get it,” a friend tipsily exclaims, after examining his patterned snack diptych. “Cheetos are the exact opposite of pickles!”)
It’s the colour that first strikes people, used maximally and in pleasing arrangements; then it’s the cleverness and the finishing — the satisfaction of seeing a project seen through to highly detailed completion. The Back Gallery is stuffed to the brim with his crisp objects: words cast in plaster, words printed on Plexiglass, the aforementioned food paintings, pencil crayons and coloured paper and a single luminous barber’s pole, striped unexpectedly in an iridescent pink and green.