Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ
Altamira FIne Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a new solo exhibition for Robert McCauley, November 9-21, 2020.
Join us for an Artist Reception Thursday, November 12, from 6:30-9pm at our Scottsdale gallery.
Gathering Up the Pieces for Future Reference
The paintings in Gathering Up the Pieces for Future Reference approach the same environmental issue: What we know from other cultures is that the stuff we leave behind can be reassembled into illuminating form. I got the idea from a pre-Colombian pot we own with a kill hole. It made me think about finding all these shards and putting them back together in a way that helps us to see what that culture was like. We can try and preserve a little bit of this and that and thereby save some history. That’s where the bell jar comes into play in Sea Bear with Red Herring. The bell jar, to me, signals that there is something precious inside. You often see them in museums. Their transparency allows us to see not only what is inside but the other side as well.
The bear brings up the notion of who is doing the picking. In nature, there is a subspecies of white black bear; they are only found on Vancouver Island. They exist but very few people know about them. I learned from minimalist painters to embrace applying absolute color to black and white bears. In this painting, I consider what he has managed to pick up and save for later. These are red herring, a writer’s tool, forcing you to create false narratives. Certain elements take you off on tangents and drop you in a different place. There are no conclusions, only different paths to explore. There is a storm on the horizon. We put together the idea of saving what we can of the environment, and then we are confronted by a storm coming. The painting thus mirrors our current situation; we don’t know the outcome. On a technical level, I’m trying to teach myself how to paint aspects of light, evidenced in the dome. This is something they never told us in graduate school: It’s OK to do something that seems refined, that displays skill.
The most important thing I’ve learned over all these years is to paint what you want to paint. I’ve enjoyed black bears for a long time. I used to get nervous about that. Friends would ask, “Can’t you paint something else?” The problem is, I cannot shake my absolute love of the bear. It would be arbitrary to say, “I’m not going to paint bears anymore.” The bear serves a purpose for me as a stand-in for humans. In Sea Bear With Red Herring, the bear pushes into our face a bell jar full of that which we are meant to protect. “What are you going to do about this?” I want them to be confrontational. You cannot make a rabbit confrontational. This white bear is one in a great family of bears I’ve painted. And yet, I have never painted two bears that look alike. They seem to take on a character of their own in my work. I don’t try; their distinct personalities just appear.
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