Young Artists 2021

Artist Benjamin Asam Kellogg Speaks in Symbols

Kat Herriman

Benjamin Kellogg
Benjamin Asam Kellogg. Photo by Elise Raven.

There was a time when Benjamin Asam Kellogg considered penning a codex that would map out all the meanings and references embedded in his symbol-laden installations and sculptures, but the New York-based artist soon nixed the idea, deciding instead that those narratives should only be available to those curious enough to seek them. “If you paid attention, you would know my recipe,” he reassures me. In the crystal ball of Kellogg’s work, I do see recurring stories appear, but I also have the sensation of getting lost in his chemtrails, which tangle back in on themselves like infinity signs. Maybe that’s what I like about them.

Kellogg seems to take special pleasure in this kind of mental circumambulation, which seeks to complicate the relationship between the built world we occupy and the beliefs upon which it is animated. His most recent solo show, “House of Hours” at Murmurs in Los Angeles this past February, took on a maze-like quality that reminded me of fantastical video games with their pixelated towers and keys. Composed of a set of follies and wall-bound tapestries connected by Alice in Wonderland-worthy checkered pathways, the exhibition bore down on the exponential meanings that pour out from the elemental tautology of night and day, and how those symbols are then instrumentalized by power.

Benjamin Asam Kellogg

The paradoxical but fundamental pillars of Kellogg’s lexicon are architecture and the occult, which he quickly proves are more interrelated than they may seem. “What I like about buildings is that they automatically take on human sensation, even without any anthropomorphic qualities,” Kellogg says. “Buildings are symbols as a whole. They are able to both encapsulate and represent many beliefs at once.” Like mystical dogmas, the artist envisions our man-made landscape as a dimension riddled with clues about our lives and the forces that govern us. Kellogg often goes searching for new narratives by archi-trespassing all over the cities he visits; he likes ruins, follies and burnt out churches, and not yet finished skyscrapers—all places to discover beastly prints to track into the mist.