You don’t have to live in an oceanfront home—or ever have set foot on a beach, for that matter—to appreciate artist Carol Bennett’s sensual paintings of swimmers suspended in water. While those who have a penchant for all things aquatic will appreciate the prominence of water in Bennett’s works, her swimming-inspired paintings are sure to strike a mesmerizing chord in anyone who lays eyes on her art. That was the case for Lisa Cooper, art dealer and owner of the Riverdale, New York, gallery Elisa Contemporary Art, where Bennett’s works will be featured in a gallery show entitled “Strength & Grace” in June and July. Of Bennett’s underwater imagery, Cooper says, “I fell in love with her work when I first saw it. Her work is a meditative journey through both the water and through life.”
An L.A. native and 20-year inhabitant of Kaua’i, Hawaii, Bennett spends much of her life surrounded by—and submerged in—water, a fortunate circumstance that, ostensibly, informs much of her work. Says Cooper, “The viewer will experience being in a state of ‘flow’—where the currents of the ocean suspend life and self, and the unexpected floats to the surface.”
Despite her nod to the mystical nature of the sea—and further proof that the appeal of her work reaches beyond well-heeled beach bums—Bennett’s fascination with swimmers actually began when she was living in L.A. and swimming at the L.A. Athletic Club. “The floor beneath the pool, with its ethereal skylight, was an underwater observation room…” Bennett says. “I would feel like a voyeur, watching the swimmers’ private time and drawing in their beauty. I became the swimmer I observed in the images I later created.” It’s a scene that anyone fortunate enough to acquire a piece of the art will savor. “Suspense 4,” 2010, oil and acrylic on wood panel, 46”x74”, $22,000. Elisa Contemporary Art, elisacontemporaryart.com. —L.L.
The Life Aquatic Four more underwater scenes by Hawaii artist Carol Bennett
1“Lagoon,” 2010, oil on wood panel, 32″ x 32″, $8,500. 2“Manganese,” 2010, oil on wood panel, 44″ x 44″, $10,000. 3 “Papillion,” 2009, oil on wood panel, 32″ x 32″, $8,500. 4 “Salmon 2,” 2010, oil on wood panel, 32″ x 32″, $8,500. All at elisacontemporaryart.com.