"Art and War", Fall 2001
Direct Art, Fall 2001
by Craig Stephens
Recently returned from Afghanistan, from what he describes as "an inspiring tour," LA based Robert Reynolds has a recurring fascination with war. Entwining personal allegory and historical references, Roberts work is both painting and sculpture based, often reinforced with multi dimensional usage of media and materials.
“Marilyn at Auschwitz” serves as a metaphor for controversial and even precocious nature of Reynolds’ work. The oil painting with neon sign attachment sees a cell lined with double bunks occupied with somber and emaciated Jewish refuges. The uniformed men stare blankly, while Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe stands in the middle of their cell in all her skirt raised glory.
Reynolds says his work is a reaction to war, consumer society and classification systems, where ideas of protection and defensiveness from the outside world become synonymous with being trapped, imprisoned and suspended in time.
"War is something that is still inherent in the human psyche, something that we still haven’t evolved from. I’ve also had first hand experience with war, I have friends who are both veterans and war correspondents and I’ve always been mesmerized by their fantastic tales," he says.
"When specifically observing the current situation in Afghanistan, I don’t actually agree with the bombing of peasants, yet they suffer as the Taliban were out to kill us. I do think it’s a reaction to the US foreign policy, though Americans have endured a lifetime of propaganda, which have instilled many misconceptions about the Arab world, I can recall watching Walt Disney cartoons in which Arab were always stereotyped as sinister dangerous and untrustworthy".
Roberts confesses a fascination with adopting a perspective of either the attacker or the attacked. Ideas of protection and defensiveness from the outside world become synonymous with being trapped, imprisoned and suspended in time. His series, Faded Memories Of History reference battle via sunken warships, while Untitled Six, a painterly portrayal of one of the last photographs taken of a group of Kamikaze pilots sees a sense of irony through movement and time, linking nature, process and memory. A more recent, as yet incomplete series aims to emulate the view from an aircraft cockpit as it flies towards an NYC skyline.
"Apart from being tempted by the offer of $25 million for Bin Laden, I found that on a lateral level, traveling anywhere always helps with any sort of creative block. Yet I do feel compelled to draw some conclusions from the scenario, and find it ironic that America is spending billions everyday to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan, while the attack on the WTC costing within the vicinity of a million managed to cause so much damage".
"Ultimately, I think terrorism is born from frustration, when no other forum to voice an opinion is available. The attack was spawned by our relationship with Israel and our lack of objectivity, the US also inspires a lot of jealousy, envy and hatred from other nations, whereas races such as Palestinians have spent their whole lives in concentration camps".
Written by Craig Stephens