Robin Winters - Testa Cornuta 1996 glass
"Please forgive me I am an American"
Robin Winters, an America born in 1950, is known as an accomplished printmaker and glass artist. His writings, performances and artwork have always had a political edge.
In recent years it has become evident that such untiring diversity is the point of Winters aesthetic and conceptual project, a chameleon-like investigative endeavour that significantly feeds off of and sustains the artist's life. And Winters is keenly aware of the many contexts and durations of that "life": the life of certain styles, mediums, conceptual ideas, or an artist's "currency" in the right galleries and magazines.
By avoiding any overly concrete or restrictive allegiances Winters is free to live and live again, like a fly lighting just long enough to be noticed but not long enough to be trapped. What is most impressive and rejuvenating about Winters' way of working is the invariable effect his personality has on his projects; they are simultaneously touching and intelligent without being pretentious or grand. Winters' knowledge and technical skills, and his mirthful, confounding "art and life" juxtapositions contradict and enrich our understanding of both.
At Brutto Gusto Robin Winters will show a selection of his works from the last 20 years consisting glassworks, ceramics, porcelain, bronze, drawings and sculpture, mainly portraits in which he tries to catch his world.
Beacon, NY, Dia Center for the Arts, Trial by Fire (Works from the Melting Ground): A Selection of Works in Glass, Ceramic and Bronze
Queens, NY, Queens Museum of Art, Heart of Glass, with Josiah McElheny, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Tony Oursler, Katy Schmert, Kiki Smith, Jan Vercruysse, Not Vital, Robin Winters
Brutto Gusto, Rotterdam Flowering
New York, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Temporarily Possessed, The Semi-Permanent Collection
From the beginning of his career, Robin Winters has been noted for the multiplicity of his artistic means. As if seeking to escape classification through sheer variety, he has worked in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, installation and performance. "Notes from The Finishing Room," his most recent exhibition, consisted of 10 large canvases.
The head continues to be primary in Winters's imagery. His 1990 New York exhibition had 120 heads sculpted of glass, bronze and ceramic, wearing hats or bearing symbolic headgear such as a nuclear cooling tower. Many of the paintings in the current exhibition depict heads, often doubled one atop the other as in Lucky Seven or Storm Watch. Dream imagery also figures heavily. In The Button-Down Crowd, we see nine circular vignettes containing characters familiar from dream's illogic: a winged figure with a face on its chest, a man with a sailboat on his head, and so on.
The figures are rendered in cartoonlike fashion with only the most basic features, but the handling of the mediums varies widely. The 7 Sisters (Pleiades), executed with thick globs of paint, presents seven women's heads seen as if under a layer of wax. On the other hand, in Direct Hit Winters dilutes his acrylic almost to watercolor consistency, using it simply as translucent wash to fill in the charcoal drawing of the figure. It is as if he is determined to avoid any hint of a characteristic style.
Such a strategy is understandable in these days of curators and collectors who demand trademark pieces from artists, but the danger is of seeming like a talented art-school student trying out a variety of styles, with none feeling truly genuine. Likewise, Winters's use of irrational imagery smacks of the faux naif. There are references to the Surrealists, of course, and more than once I found myself reminded of Odilon Redon. The collective unconscious can be a wellspring of inspiration, but it can also provide boringly familiar images.
di Brutto Gusto
Testa Cornuta 1996 glass