For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistNo photograph can convey the physical presence of Robinson’s artworks, nor prepare you for the encounter with the real thing. Raw and responsive, tumultuous yet controlled, chaos and balance at the same time, seducing the viewer while shooting home a challenge that cuts to the heart (or bone). The titles are often open to as many interpretations as Robinson’s works themselves. There’s a sense of forces beyond our reckoning, wrestling on and under the surface of the canvas. And underpinning all that, is Robinson’s use of art as ‘social and cultural work’, laying bare our engagement (or not) with each other and with the planet, and the fact we are at a critical pivot point for our civilisation, species and consciousness. ‘Internal processing is not common in art now,’ he observes, ‘but I can only relay what I perceive to be going on.’ His materials are diverse – discarded domestic objects, along with stones, shells, fabric, and often the sharp edge of nails and wood. Areas are slashed through then stitched to hold just barely together, are burned around the edges, or have voids of blackest velvet. Fragments of earlier paintings are melded together, stacked into a structure that, like human endeavour, might make sense of it all. While Robinson takes no prisoners, he also exposes a softer side, the spiritual survivor, a sense of hope. Having bared all on the canvas, James Robinson prefers to let his work speak for him – and it’s true, first hand encounter is the only way to engage, and understand.
More About the Artist
It’s difficult to describe works that indeed are best ‘felt and heard’ first hand – distinctive, visceral, with an internal energy that seems ready to burst through the canvas or rip apart the stitching at any moment; defying definition. He collages diverse materials and strips of canvas, with tiny symbols and cartoonish drawings to be discovered amidst vast abstract gestures – a clue to his own questioning of consciousness, or our relationship with the planet and the universe.
Born in 1972, now living in Dunedin, James Robinson is regarded as a significant artist of his generation and his distinctive works of the last decade in particular are sought after by collectors. He was the Paramount Winner of the Wallace Art Awards in 2007, and has held the prestigious residency at the Sarjeant (Wanganui), the McCahon Trust (Auckland) as well as the William Hodges in Southland, and others in New York, Berlin, Melbourne, Canada.