“Robinson slices and dices and reassembles ; he is the medicine man engaged in healing himself in the name of the planet”
- David Eggleton
Open by appointment - Mageleinstraat 4, 9000 Ghent
Art measured against the universe dwindles to dust grains and reverberations in recent works by New Zealand artist James Robinson. He is the artist as artificer, on the verge of inventing his own religion, a syncretic mojo man. And yet his prolific and obsessive output of metaphoric objects, assembled from found vernacular matter, is always in the serve of beauty, at once haunting, forbidding, eerie. Finding beauty in the abject, doing the heavy lifting, getting stuff back to the studio, Robinson is a kind of body builder, uniting disparate materials to bulge under skins of enamel and latex paint.
Central in the exhibition is Robinson’s large work “Old brain” consisting out 35 strips of canvas all hanging separately off the wall and inspired by the poem Teleprompter by the writer of this text, David Eggleton. This works offers confirmation that much of Robinson’s oeuvre functions as charms and fetishes, as much to be felt as a prickling of the skin as to be looked at. It has its own atmosphere, conveying disturbances in the ether, the suggestions of psychic vibrations from magnetic fields.
The tradition of the painted word, of poets and painters collaborating, is dinstictive in New Zealand Art: Colin McHan hand-writing words by John Caselberg onto canvas; Ralph Hotere using texts by Bill Manhire, etc. If James Robinson on the one hand is a kind of sculptor, the ghost at the feast gathering up the left-overs and gluing them onto the wall, on the other hand he is a kind of graphomaniac, writing his art into existence. From early on he has kept journals and diaries, the inscriptions of which often seem splintered and ruptured in the way they are written, with a spluttery ink-nib or a clogged biro or twig-dipped in mud. These notebooks with their distinctive mark-making, in a kind of self-cannibalising continuum, are sometime transmogrified into collages.
Messily rendering raw feelings into dyslexic, dysmorphic ‘poor white trash art’ tableaux from an authentic rather than an ironic stand, Robinson struggled for one time with the corrections and and elitism of formal art institutions. His grotesquerie is visionary in a way, like the drawings of Philip Clairmont, the paintings of Francis Bacon, the movies of David Croneberg. Robinson is groping for holy relics or at least testaments to aspects of the human condition.
- Text as appeared in Art New Zealand written by David Eggleton