Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ
Altamira FIne Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a new solo exhibition for Robert Townsend, March 16-28, 2020.
Join us for the ArtWalk and Meet the Artist Thursday, March 19, from 7-9pm at our Scottsdale gallery.
Five years ago, Robert Townsend began plotting a new painting, a quintessentially midcentury scene sourced from a vintage slide. A confident woman wearing fifties finery, perched poolside on a plastic chaise lounge. Behind her, a neon motel sign towers over the palm-striped desert parkway. A canary-yellow slide snakes across the foreground, recalling the golden bricks Dorothy followed—a likeness amplified by the scarlet pumps adorning the dame’s feet. The ultimate encapsulation of midcentury ebullience.
Thus inspired, Townsend projected the slide onto his studio wall at night, enlarging the composition until he felt the presence of his heroine. He measured the image: six-feet square, which would have been his largest painting to date. But, before he could order the custom canvas, he discovered a slide collection on eBay, setting off a chain reaction that resulted in the Helen series. The slide painting moved to the sideline.
Until now: seizing a small window between Helen paintings and promotion, Townsend returned to the desert Dorothy. He loves that the scene features details universal to the era, untethered to a specific locale: she could be sitting anywhere along the southwestern American dream.
This sense of iconic character connects the painting—winkingly titled, “There’s No Place Like”—with the monumental Helen work also bound for Altamira. “Cheers” stars Helen and Roy posing with friends, beachy cocktails held high in celebration. Clad in sherbet hues, the foursome stand against a white background, casting cobalt shadows. By introducing negative space, their collective gesture takes center stage. A vacation toast immortalized on a grand scale: “Cheers” is the largest canvas Townsend has ever done.
Working big suits the painter on many levels. Large compositions recall his early work as a muralist. Also, scaling photographs up so people stand life-size makes their presence inescapable, forcing interaction. So too they make him commit as an artist: spending many months on one canvas requires a certain mindset. “You have to learn how to be peaceful,” he says. “If you know there’s something you are going to work on for a year, you know you have to not be rushed, to slow down. This is not going to happen overnight. That appeals to me. It pushes me. When you commit to it, you know it’s going to take everything out of you.”
Pre-sales available. Call 480-949-1256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.