The work of Walter Robinson has recently emerged as a major rediscovery.
A discreet painter but a well-known art critic since the 1980s, he co-founded the magazine Artnet and writes regularly in the specialist press. In that capacity, in 2014 he coined the term “Zombie Formalism”, that opened a large debate and offered a new point of view on the recent effects of the art market.
In his painting, on the other hand, he says he invents nothing. According to him, since everything has already been done, it would be pointless to try to create something new, and much more interesting to clearly admit that we are just « copying ». Robinson’s tone, also when talking about consumerism as a perfect world, always seems ironic, but never cynical. He likes to play, and hates moralizing. But his work is more serious than he claims, and is marked by many references to art history.
He paints images of desire, ranging from the passionate desire of couples on the covers of popular novels to the more materialistic desire for daily consumer products (clothes, food, cosmetics, dollar bills…), as in the advertising images that he also likes to “steal”.
His figurative painting is exuberant and generous, and it asserts itself courageously and with great freshness, having passed through all of the opposing currents without ever surrendering or betraying itself.
The exhibition particularly highlights his Romance series, inspired by the covers of pulp romances. He initiated the series when he was just starting to paint and continues to enrich it today with new compositions.
The subject is completely old-fashioned and yet radiates intense power. The characters are dated while the sensations remain intact, timeless. Looking at these paintings, what is immediately clear is that Walter Robinson loves this medium, and his pleasure in it emanates from his work. He appropriates the images and makes good use of their sexual charge. His process, however, transforms them, giving them another status and a mythical dimension. It is the latter that resonates in us when we look at his paintings.
Walter Robinson was born in New York in 1950. His work has been shown in many galleries (Metro Picture, Jeffrey Deitch…) and is part of important collections (MOMA, Whitney Museum…).