New landscape painting exhibit opens in AEGON Gallery
January 5, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
Willie Robertson, recently opened in the AEGON Gallery in the
Jones Visual Arts Center on Centre’s campus. The exhibit is
open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday
until Feb. 6.
Robertson uses unique techniques to create his landscapes.
Two pieces which appear to be sleeping bags with exteriors
of painted canvas, lined with quilts made by the artist’s
A new exhibit, “Kentucky Landscape Paintings: Image/Object, Depiction/ Abstraction,” recently opened in the AEGON Gallery in the Jones Visual Arts Center on Centre’s campus. The artwork, created by Kentucky artist Willie Robertson, is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday until Feb. 6.
“These landscapes grab your attention with their sheer size, then pull you in and keep you with their detail,” says Judith Jia, Charles T. Hazelrigg Associate Professor of Art. “Willie’s work is a meeting of the 19th century Hudson River School — realist landscapes — and the 20th century abstract expressionist movement. Seemingly random splotches of paint seen up close become part of the landscape as you back away from the painting. This work is interesting to view from one foot away to twenty feet away.”
“I'm really proud of the group of work as a whole,” Robertson says. “In developing the work, I knew that there was a kind of provincial American-ness that I wanted to reflect, things about American art and culture that I find interesting. I'm happy with the result.”
Robertson’s paintings, many of which are actually created outdoors, will stand out to viewers for a variety of reasons.
“They are slightly unconventional in a couple of ways,” Jia says. “Several of the works integrate quilt imagery into the landscape. Three six-foot round frames hang from the ceiling [of the gallery] and have double-sided canvases — one side has a traditional landscape, and the other, a landscape with quilt pattern shining as a sunrise or peeking through the trees. Two wall pieces appear to be sleeping bags with exteriors of painted canvas, lined with quilts made by the artist’s grandmother.”
For Robertson, making artwork is not a choice — it’s imperative.
“I was recently inspired by a statement by Chuck Close, who said, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just get to work,’” Robertson says. “I have no trouble with having the desire or motivation to paint, only with the practicalities of daily life overwhelming opportunities to do so. There's plenty going on in the world, so the question to me is really, ‘How can a person not be inspired to make art?’”
When it comes to choosing a painting he is most proud of, however, Robertson refuses.
“As far as a favorite piece, I figure that's like when a parent states which of their children they like the best — they might have a favorite, but it makes me feel uncomfortable knowing which,” he says. “I feel like I should keep that to myself.”
Robertson hopes those who come to see his exhibit in the AEGON Gallery relate to the work in whatever way is most meaningful to them.
“If after looking at the work for a while — trying to decide whether they like it or not, deciding why they like or don't like it, taking in the work and seeing where they go — if after all that, they become curious about me, maybe want to pay me for it so they can take it home, that's great,” he says. “There's no message in the work except the one you create for yourself.”
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