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Benjamin Passione: No Time To Be Shy + Jeffrey Reed: Doonfeeny Studies

Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to share a new body of abstract oil paintings by Benjamin Passione in No Time To Be Shy. These vibrant paintings mark Passione's continued exploration of atmospheric color fields, layered with his linear, script-like markings. These new works are larger, lighter and brighter than before and feature the emergence of spherical shapes drawn in Passione’s signature style. Passione’s poetic titles continue to offer inspiration and invite the viewer to search the scene for possible hidden imagery and underlying narratives.

Passione’s abstracts are like swirling celestial panoramas. Large swathes of blue, orange and pink become blustery skies punctuated by shapes that suggest tilted horizons, textured landscapes, or dynamic, watery pools. While the primary colors are vivid and saturated, Passione’s atmospheric environments contain a quality reminiscent of J. M. W. Turner’s works, such as Sun Setting Over a Lake (c.1840), his many storm-tossed ships at sea or his famous depiction of the burning of the British Houses of Parliament. Atop these dynamic, Turner-esque compositions, Passione adds repetitive, curvilinear, marks and employs a variety of brushwork to communicate playful shapes, peaks and valleys. There is boyish amusement in Passione’s approach as these marks come together to suggest a group of animated figures or perhaps the chaotic movements of a grove of windswept trees.

Passione’s inspiration harkens back to the visual concerns of early abstract artists through the shift into Surrealism. While Wassily Kandinsky’s colorful vistas from the 1910s could provide formal inspiration, Arshile Gorky’s 1940s titles mirror Passione’s with energetic, descriptive lines, seemingly freed from absurdist poetry. Passione’s script-like marks could also be interpreted as the automatic gestures of an unconscious mind, a concept valued by the 20th-century Pataphysicians, Surrealists, and Dadaists.

Passione’s paintings embrace the nonsensical as he delves ever deeper into a self-created world of whimsy. And while there is an underlying tension and seriousness in his abstract impressions, he skillfully manages to balance them with sincerity, earnest humor, self-awareness and play.

Benjamin Passione was born in Willingboro, NJ in 1987. He attended life drawing classes at the Moore College of Art & Design and then completed the Certificate program at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His works have been exhibited in group shows across the region, and this is his third solo show at Gross McCleaf Gallery. Passione lives and works in Philadelphia with his wife, fellow artist Mickayel Thurin, and their son, Maurice. Passione and Thurin were Artists in Residence of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the summer of 2023.


In Doonfeeny Studies, Jeffrey Reed narrates a scenic adventure through the emerald countryside of western Ireland. With twenty-five new works in gouache, ink and oil, Reed captures the lush green hills, quaint rural buildings, and the romance of the light and weather throughout the days of his annual residency with the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. His signature small substrates suggest the scale of vintage photographic snapshots, while his sensitive details and skillful brushwork reflect the experiential depth of physical immersion in the beauty of a moment.

Ireland, with its trickling streams, golden hour glows and quaint, verdant villages, is captivatingly beautiful. Reed’s works are tiny windows into these trans-Atlantic environments, whose subjects reflect the gaze of a knowledgeable guest. In Ireland, Reed explores the Doonfeeny Civil Parish in County Mayo, toting his bike, paints, and tiny brushes. While some pieces are finished on location, he typically produces 20-30 small paintings during each month-long trip. Upon returning to his Philadelphia studio, he refines these works, blending the spontaneity of plein air painting with a deliberate, strategic approach to his compositions. This practice allows him to balance the immediacy of his field documentation with thoughtful reflection on his experiences.

Reed’s paintings transcend the detached perspective of the camera, infusing each scene with a tangible sense of life and specificity. He deftly captures the essence of Ireland, from the moisture in the air to the angle of the seasonal sun, rendering the familiar with a fresh sense of discovery. Although Reed is deeply familiar with his subject matter, he still finds a way to convey the novelty and subtleties of its character. His works not only maintain a strong sense of place, but also celebrate the mystical and natural allure of Ireland.

Jeffrey Reed received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, studied at the Skowhegan School of Art, and received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He has received numerous awards, including a Visual Arts Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and has exhibited widely in the US and abroad. Each summer since 2000 he has returned to the Western coast of Ireland to paint and teach at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. Reed has been represented by Gross McCleaf for nearly 41 years, and has shown his paintings in Philadelphia, New York, throughout the East Coast, and in Ireland. He lives in Pennsylvania where he is an Associate Professor at the Community College of Philadelphia.