Living in a canal boat for seven years gave Robert the isolation needed to concentrate solely on painting. In recent years he has pared down his imagery and returned to what he considers to be the root and basis for all subsequent painting – cubism. His overriding concern is to find a balance between a cubist fragmentation of the image and a realism which increases the expressive power of the image.
He has had considerable success in shows and exhibitions going back to 1981 where he had a one man show in the Manchester Ginnel Gallery for six successive years. He also exhibited in London and in France.
Technique and Inspiration
‘I am a figurative painter which means that my subjects are recognisable and I paint people rather than landscapes. The human body is to me the most challenging thing to paint. Contours change, surfaces indicate the underlying structure, colours are subtle, reflective and open to infinite variation without losing their descriptive quality. Above all I feel that the human body(and the way that it is painted) can express moods, feelings, memories, associations and ideas that are not open to an abstract painter or landscape artist (though I am sure both would disagree with me).
‘Over the past couple of years I have travelled quite extensively and it is the people of the countries that I have painted. So from my visit to Hiroshima I have so far produced two paintings. One is a mother and child that to me encapsulates not only the horror of the first atomic bomb but also the dignity of certain people faced with unbelievable sorrow. The other is of a musician whose face is full of experience and compassion but who plays music, representing a spiritual optimism that seems appropriate to the new Hiroshima.
‘Certain themes have always been evident in my work of which the nude is the most consistent. The nude figure is the basis of my painting and is usually the more adventurous stylistically than other subjects.
‘My style has cubist influences. I do not feel tied to any ideology or methodology so the influence can be very restrained or much more in evidence. Cubism is more of an attitude of mind rather than a physical technique. I lean more towards Cezanne rather than Picasso. Cubism provides an overall structure and an increase in the expressive power of the image’.