(Photo by Marisa Rosa)

Can you tell me about yourself? How you became interested in art? What are the important moments in your evolution?

I'm a visual artist currently living and working in Brussels, Belgium. My first introduction to the art world happened thanks to the work and vision of my mother who is a Modern Jazz dance choreographer.

Some “keydates” and main periods of my life from my birth until now:

1983-1990: Birth and childhood in Ivory Coast, Africa. 1990-1996: Primary school in Brussels, Belgium. First drawings. 1996-2002: Boarding school in Soignies, Belgium. High interest in Graphic arts, along with music, poetry and sport. 2002-2003: Studies in Hastings, England: Painting and Sculpture. 2003-2007: University in Belgium and The Netherlands: Journalism and Slavonic languages. Political illustrations. Growing interest for Photography. 2007-2009: Lots of different jobs: Teacher, Journalist, Editor, Coach. The priority remained in my creative projects. End of my political/activist period. 2009-2010: Full time visual artist. Birth of "Pencil Vs Camera" and "Digital Circlism". Exhibitions in Belgium and abroad. 2011-Present: Birth of "Flesh and Acrylic". Exhibitions in Belgium and abroad.

In "Flesh and Acrylic", where and when are the pictures taken?

Almost all of my "Flesh and Acrylic" projects have been done in Braives, a small city located in the Belgian countryside. I have my studio there in the attic of a lovely family house (my grandfather was born in this house, but that’s just a little anecdote). I started this project in June 2011. I made the latest one a few weeks ago (a flesh and acrylic "demo" in the context of a short video report talking about “Art and Surrealism in Belgium”; broadcasted on "TV3" (Catalonia, Spain).

What was your mission - what did you hope to achieve? Was you quest successful?

In this series, my main intention was to give a new dimension to the life model, to make something new and to generate surprise, happiness and joy in the viewer’s eyes. I wanted the result for each piece to be extremely colourful and spontaneous. As usual when I do an abstract work, I paint in a very intuitive way. The final piece is often wild with unexpected effects. Finally, I try to create an optical illusion blending different layers together, which can be a bit confusing sometimes. But this is what I like the most.

Can you describe what we are looking at with your own words?

These are mainly abstract acrylic paintings on very large wooden panels. The main idea is to create a vivid and creative surface and to blend a model with the background. The particularity of the project resides in the fact that a living person is integrated in the artwork and is part of the whole composition.

How did you create these amazing scenes – can you walk me through your method?

I first go to the art shop and get lots of acrylic paint. Then I build the wooden surface. I paint some abstract themes on the wooden panels, the model comes and he/she stays in front of the panels for 2 or 3 hours allowing me to directly add paint on her/his body as well. Once the abstract painting process is finished, I take pictures of the final result. The photos will be printed and exhibited afterwards.

Limited Edition Prints exhibited at the AAF (2011)

Certainly it's not recommended to cover your skin with acrylic paint repetitively, I first tried it on several parts of my own body, no pain, no irritation... Acrylic paint is water-based so the majority of the substance is not toxic. Acrylic paints with cadmium can be harmful because of the heavy metals they contain. I use acrylic WITHOUT cadmium.

What is the message behind your art?

In this “Flesh and Acrylic” series, the messages are: “life is colourful” and “Life is like a canvas, anything can happen”.

What kind of reaction do you get from people when you show them?

Some think it is "extreme" and they say I’m completely crazy. Other people beg to become a model for one of these projects…

Is there an ecological message you want to convey in this series?

I’m definitely a person pleading for the protection of nature etc, but to be honest, in this series, it was not my primary goal. In this project, human beings made of flesh and blood transform themselves into synthetic plastic creatures. It is a bit provocative.

- What is the type of paint?

It’s always acrylic paint, hence the title “Flesh and Acrylic”

- How many pots of paint did you use?

Usually between 8 and 16 pots for each “Flesh and Acrylic” project.

- How many litres is each one?

Usually there is 750 mililitres in one pot, depending on the brand.

How many different colours did you use?

I like to work with simple primary colors. So I have maybe 4 or 5 colors maximum and I mix them together to obtain new colors when needed.

(*): Barcroft Media is a British press agency working with Ben

Some unseen images of Ben's Flesh and Acrylic project: