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JAMES ROBINSON – Rock Action – 4-28 April, 2017

Sand: a fragment of rock ground to small size by earth’s processes.
Sandstone: a type of sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand that has compressed and hardened.

These new paintings by James Robinson are the result of process. And in James’s process he reflects the dynamic of the earth. Formation, erosion. Accumulation, dispersal. Coagulation, dissolution. Rock, wind, ice, rain, spray, waves, sand.
        
The paintings are both material and visual. Images will have appeared and disappeared while paint, plastic, cloth and grit were still fluid layers on the surface. Thoughts, too, would have flooded in and out, perhaps leaving traces, perhaps not. When we look at these works in their finished state, we see a process stilled, a series of captured moments in which construction and deconstruction appear simultaneously, a group of works with a history of deep engagement with their creator.

But we are not he. We come to the work from our own standpoint so our engagement will be different. We can investigate them as archaeologists might, look through the material layers for clues to earlier epochs. Or one may pore over them in the mode of an anthropologist – sifting through accumulated detritus to speculate on human civilisation. It is a testament of James Robinson’s ability as an artist that these works project visual surety in the abstract idiom. They mould randomness into significance while still providing form, structure and pictorial coherence. Plastic, glass, hooks, lids, shells, rings, nails. Each piece settles into place.
        
James Robinson’s philosophy and his process come together in these meditative works. In recent years he has been investigating our relationship to the planet – its minerality, its biodiversity – and looking for where to place himself both physically and spiritually within that sphere. To this end he has been reading/watching/listening to thinkers such as Donna Haraway, particularly her discussion of Cthulucence, and Timothy Mortons and his notion of Hyper Objects.

Rock Action. Music. The Titles.
The painting titles each correspond to a piece of music: track name, album, band. They were selected at random, using autoplay, from music James was listening to while making this work.
Psychic Map: mental health meta data. These one hundred and forty-seven diaristic drawings wander, wonder and meander through the landscape of the mind. On that terrain he questions his identity. He broods, speculates, worries, plays, makes jokes, takes delight. He doesn’t hold back, they are unfiltered by shyness. Through drawing James has made a place where he can be totally honest. He says they are like prayer flags.

Marian Maguire