At the time of Robin Lowe’s exhibitions in the early 1990s at the A/C Project Room and in 1995 at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, he was painting portraits of family members, friends and often their children. Highly stylized with non-naturalistic color, both they and the more observational paintings of landscapes and tableaux embodied anxiety and had an ominous edge. A series that followed, exhibited at Reflex Modern Art in Amsterdam, was loosely related to the Southern Gothic themes of William Faulkner but were based to some degree on the people and the environments of the farm country of the Western Catskills where Lowe had established a home and studio.
Of the works in the current exhibition, Robin Lowe wrote:
All in Your Head represents a return to the epicenter of my painting, which I refer to as psychological portraiture. For an artist working with the human figure, the history of representation is a heavy load and I realized long ago that the only way for me to develop a contemporary approach is to just mindfully live in the present and paint intuitively. The portraits in this exhibition are a return to my base, with a fresh look that I attribute to time off from portraiture, a palette dominated by out-of-the-tube colors, and renewed joy of painting.
As a complement to the portraits, I have included five road paintings that maintain the same psychological priorities as the portraits. Inspired by many years and countless miles of driving, these roads can imply speed that mandates intense awareness, but at times they are contemplative and eerily
Francisco Sisters, 2017 PhilI, 2017 reminiscent. As with the portraits, these are not as much representations of roads as they are existential representations of the psychological space and time travel. In keeping with the adventure that roads suggest, I respectfully maintain a sense of mystery and suspense of what lies ahead.
Most viewers will not know who the people depicted in Lowe’s new paintings are, but they include his wife, a long-time co-worker at the art services company he founded more than thirty years ago, and a pair of sisters from the Catskills. They are to some extent inscrutable, but depicted directly and honestly. Their features, accessories and environments are still stylized but less so than the earlier portraits and fictional characters. I think that Robin Lowe has come to a measure of maturity in his life and work that allows him to set aside narrative and address his subjects directly using the surfaces of these large canvases to bring to life individuals with thoughts, experiences and identities uniquely their own.
Robin Lowe was born in 1959 in Providence, Rhode Island. He received a masters degree from NYU in 1985 and has had seventeen solo exhibitions since then at the A/C Project Room, Tanya Bonakdar and Lennon, Weinberg in New York, Victoria Miro in London, Marc Foxx in Los Angeles and at Reflex Modern Art in Amsterdam. He received a fellowship from the New York State Foundation for the Arts in 2002 and is co-founder of Art Crating, an art services company with locations in New York and Los Angeles. In 1987, he also co-founded the A/C Project Room, which was a favorite destination of many artists and critics and served as a launching pad for the careers of several artists of Lowe’s generation