"Love, Hate & Lies", LA Painter-Sculptor: Robert Reynolds 10 year Retrospective, Spring 2002
Direct Art, Catalogue, Spring 2002
by Craig Stephens
Brazen and defiant, the work of Los Angeles painter sculptor Robert Reynolds deconstructs the authoritarian, observing the interplay of order and chaos through a paradoxical melding of popular icons.
Removed from conventional notions of classicism and beauty, Reynolds 10 year retrospective, "Love Hate and lies" offers down and dirty realism, spiced with a hefty polemic.
Thematically, "Love Hate and lies" observes the bloodlust, rage, and melancholia shrouding 9/11; further exploring the aftermath of Bin Laden's spiralling hero status in the Arab world, and America's exploding nationalist sentiment and defense budget.
The retrospective also seeks inspiration from iconic Americana, its consumerist reinvention and global interpretation; the Hollywood star ethos; classification systems and the trivial pursuit of life love and loss.
Recounting the vision and genius of Warhol, Keinholz and the surrealist movement, neon works such as "Breakfast of Champions" and "Folk Heros" juxtapose the mundaneity of common American consumer icons with unsettling images of infamous terrorists and notorious American killers.
Unfashionably audacious, Reynolds work may convey a detached and abstract veneer, yet it still maintains a definitive humanist quality. Lateral not literal, it serves as a refreshing contrast to the ornate pretence dominating today's vacuous art scene.
"I am not preoccupied with cheap and simple sensationalism, but more aiming to inspire a thoughtful reaction, asking my audience to question the common response of the collective psyche to recent tragic events, confides Reynolds.
A previous exhibition of the artists neon work at downtown LA venue 410 Boyd inspired much controversy when shown in April 2001. A particular piece, namely “Marilyn At Auschwitz” fuelled sensation from both the public at large and the media.
In a story titled "What does society hold sacred" LA Times journalist Lisa Richardson highlighted the controversial nature of the piece, "Marilyn at Auschwitz is the scene of furious debate, and sometimes just fury, as politicians and garment district workers, film students and journalists, Superior Court judges and graphic artists argue about the Holocaust, artistic license and Robert Reynolds' painting?
In addition to his recent works, "Love Hate and lies," will feature assorted paintings and sculptures created over the last ten years including watercolors, ink on paper and organic images.
“Sinking sculptures”, is an eight piece series of burning boats and aircraft carriers, constructed from steel sculpted frames covered with resin like skin. Sunken ships and aircraft carriers are captured in poses that recreate a sinking or listing vessel. The carriers, with frames ranging from 4 to 7 feet long are seemingly scaled to fit the viewers imagination. Incongruously earthbound and alienated victims of catastrophe, these fragments of a larger structure become enigmatically suspended in time, frozen as they sink into the earth. The ships serve as a memorandum to a forgotten era, a moment capturing tragedy as the boats sink.
More sculptures, titled “The Gondola Series” see the uncharacteristic placement of gondola replicas and Venetian carnival masks embedded in womb like wood and metal nests. Use of layering and wrapping creates a complicated multi textured labyrinth of folds. Reynolds says the series addresses the idea of protection and defensiveness as synonymous with being trapped, imprisoned and suspended in time.
Reynolds cites a spectrum of influences, including Mario Merz, Chuck Close, Christo and Sidney Goodman."I've always had a fascination for the destruction of man and the earth,? - he says. "Thematically this has permeated everything from my early watercolors through to later heavily textual paintings, using oil paints and organic material through to my sculptures and neons.
Situated at 300 West 2nd Street in downtown Pomona, Calpoly Downtown Center will host Robert Reynolds 10 year retrospective, "Love Hate and lies" From Saturday July 18 till August 18, 2002.
Written by Craig Stephens
Direct Art and the Reynolds Show Catalogue