2006: Ben’s Year In Review

by Ann E.K.

As 2006 ebbs away and the second week of the New Year is in full swing, on behalf of Ben’s many friends, fellow artists and admirers around the world, I’d like to extend a warm congratulations to Ben on this momentous year just passed.

Having been delighted to be the Christmas Guest of the Week among such illustrious company, it gave me an idea to offer some reflections on an extraordinary year, both personally and politically.

2006 has been momentous for Ben in many ways. A number of exciting new collaborations, the launch of two blogs in addition to an excellent website professionally designed by Stoff Designs, an online exhibition, participation in the prestigious Sebastian Kruger workshop, a safari trip to Kenya, and a presence on the global web radar all constituted the flurry of activity in 2006.

With our friend flying high in the blog firmament, it is remarkable to remind ourselves that Ben only launched this blog in March -- less than a year ago!

Initially writing in French throughout April, Ben posted his sublime artwork and articles of interest, featuring artist profiles, cartoon events and political coverage, all accompanied by stunning images. Having gone through the site month-by-month to write this short article, I am truly astounded at the quality and quantity of Ben’s prolific creative production and the topical range of articles, as I am sure others have been similarly struck. It is truly a tour de force!

In May, Ben switched most of his posts to English, using his second language (of a handful he is impressively conversant in to varying degrees), thus making his blog accessible to those of us fluent in the major lingua franca of the web.

In June his second blog was launched, the wildly lavish yet soulful Erotico Fantastico Burlesque, featuring poetry, prose, photography and Ben’s erotico art. Twin blogs for a young man born under the sign of the twins, further displaying Ben’s versatility and range.

Ben then became one of only 18 participants at the prestigious Second International Kruger Workshop the following month in October, which by all photographic and written accounts was a most worthwhile and enjoyable experience, as shared with readers.

At this time too, the blog saw an aesthetic change with Ben’s now instantly recognisable Searching Plantman being adopted as the blog banner.

The busy month of November saw a trip to east Africa to be treated to a week’s safari in Kenya. The visual experience was recorded with memorable drawings of wildlife posted on the blog: lions, elephants, monkeys and hippos.

At month’s end, Ben instituted his Guest of the Week feature, which was a novel way to expand upon the innovative Links of the Week. Starting with Don Quichotte founder Erdogan Karayel, Ben’s caricature featured at the top of the sidebar linking to the site of the guest.

A major event in mid December was Ben’s online exhibition at Ishtvan Pippen’s Art Loft in Second Life. A great success and an innovative platform, it offered global guests the opportunity to meet Ben, visit a virtual gallery and view his and other great artists’ paintings. In effect, it was, quite aptly, an invitation to participate in a futuristic adventure in which one becomes a virtual cartoon.

It was great to see Ben’s inventive provocations with his superbly paradoxical expressions of stylised imperfection and disfigured harmony with their luminous colours on the Art Loft’s virtual walls. Ben subsequently scored the sale of his vivid "Mante Religieuse" by a Belgian programmer. Lucky man.

Thank you Ben for creating art that resonates with us all on so many levels, aesthetically as well as politically, and for the art in solidarity. Your autodidactic artistic skills truly are impressive, coupled with your mental agility and ability to create a wonderful imaginal space in which a global community of readers have the opportunity to interact.

Here’s to a more progressive 2007 on the world political stage, and a year that brings continued great success and joy to Ben and his esteemed friends and family of readers.

Happy New Year!