Juxtapoz // Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Cephalopod Helper - upper painting
But if you made your Peace, the Demons are really Angels freeing you from the Earth Created for Craola's upcoming curated show INLE in March 2011 at Gallery 1988 in LA.
Robert Bowen is a friend, a laugher, and an artist.
To hear him howl and cackle and see him point his fingers your way is to know his love. To see him look at you over his glasses and prepare to dispute some notion you might have about an esoteric reference to a movie possibly featuring Kurt Russell; is a pure delight. For decades, and yes it has been that long, I have wondered what keeps Robert up at night, what it was that calls to him from unseen places that can't be shared. I used to believe that his painting - his serious work - was his explanation of this dark place to the world at large, his way of showing us the burden he travels under. That these ferocious and anxious and laughing-out-loud image statements he was creating were in essence maps for the pain or distress he was carrying. At one time, assuredly, there was truth in that, but now I see that his work is what lets him rest at night and provides him slivers of peace and satisfaction. It's a beautiful warped therapy, but its working out well for all of us.
You can see lots of Robert Bowens work at www.robertbowenart.com
I asked Robert a series of questions to help give us all insight into how he constructs his paintings, where the motivation comes from, how he creates his array of well painted palpable iconography with its pointed fingers and gaping mouths - and he provided answers.
Give me the 5 words you use to describe your work and explain the meaning behind them and how they are present in your work.
1. Colorful- I tend to like BRIGHT bold colors, they stand out and catch your eye
2. Dark- although the work is brightly colored, some of the subject matter can be heavy, some people say "disturbing" at times. I guess its like a goth rainbow!
3. Therapeutic- Making art is one of the most important things to my well being. Its helps me be self aware, gives me some sort of insight. In a round about way, I feel it helps me with my self esteem and people skills, I have to be able to talk to people when they ask me shit like this.
4. Fun- There is a lot of humor in my work, whether its dark humor, making light of something, or poking fun at Icons we all live with. I like to make myself laugh.
5. Provocative- You might Laugh, feel disturbed, get angry, cry, wanna hi-5 or punch me, but at least my paintings make you feel something.
Mario Lanza will Melt your Face
Small or big (why is size important)?
I love giant works of art, but unfortunately we all don't have a place to make or exhibit giant stuff, so small has its place too.
Do you agree with the term low brow?
Well, I cant come up with anything better. People understand what your talking about when you say that. All these terms are only good to describe art when talking about it or writing about it. If people like and get something out of it when they actually look at it, that is what matters. Besides my shit definitely aint High-brow.
From concept to execution, how does the singular idea not get lost in translation?
Who's to say it doesn't? I know most of the paintings turn out the way I first saw them in my head. But the viewer might not get what I was tying to say, this might happen no matter how it was executed. People might even look too hard into things and get distracted by the visual absurdity when sometimes all I was doing was executing a simple play on words.
Eastern and Western Oracles
Do you think you were born in the right era? if not when?
Yeah I do, a lot of my work is laced with pop-culture references, and now is probably the best time to be alive for that. if anything maybe I should have been born in the future.
How do you strive for distinction in a field that draws inspiration form shared icons?
I don't, Man, all I can only do what I do. I think you would go crazy trying to be different, 1. Its impossible, People are always gonna compare you to someone else whether its good or bad. And also - I would loose track of myself because I was "trying" to be different. Most of the time I'm flattered by the comparisons people throw at me, most of the time....
On a scale of 1-10, how serious do you take your work?
A big fat ten. Some of my subject matter might not be as serious as the next guys, but I totally take pride in my work.
Whats the best and worst thing about having an artist girlfriend?
The best thing is I think she completely understands my process and my need to be creative. The worst...sometimes I'll get an unsolicited opinion about some shit. Not that I ever want her to stop or keep her opinions to herself, it just usually comes at a time when I'm already frustrated.
Pick two paintings featured here and tell me what their soundtrack would be.
Baberaham Lincoln-The Hell raiser Theme.
Jesus Criss- Hurdy Gurdy Man, the Butthole Surfers version.
What's a film that has followed you for your whole life and provided influence?
Breakin' 2 Electric Boogaloo.