Untitled (dark house)
This evocative painting depicts a faint outline of a suburban or country house, as if seen in the middle of the night. The lack of electrical light—often present in such settings—evokes an eerie feeling, as if something might be amiss. The artist's compositions filter access to an event through light and evocative mark-making, showing viewers that everything we encounter may be fleeting, elusive and in question.
Since March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on every aspect of our lives. For many artists, the imposed quarantine liberated a desire to isolate, focus and make. For Nathaniel Robinson, who lives and works in Upstate New York, the restrictions may have resulted in an interpretive reframing of an already well-developed series of paintings. Even before the lockdown, the artist was drawing attention to the beauty of the overlooked. This painting is part of a series that is the culmination of a specific time spent in reduced social circumstance. These works direct attention anew to the relationship between close looking and the time necessary to do so. Many of the paintings reflect on the ubiquity of particular subjects—exurban housing, rural landscapes and domestic still lifes—to offer an intimate or resonant relationship with something normally passed by. As we now breathe through masks and transact through partitions, the work of Robinson takes on a new level of importance. While it’s clear that his intent to bring the mystery of the commonplace to us through painting was not with COVID-19 as a backdrop, the depth of this cultural phenomenon may intensify the experience of his work.
Nathaniel Robinson’s practice—encompassing painting, sculpture and installation—uses different tools and mediums to explore how thinking is related to seeing. The artist’s approach to painting ranges from uncovering hidden aspects of photographic images to the ambiguities and contradictions that govern representation. Robinson’s work explores how physical reality frequently intrudes into the world of ideas—and how even the factual can remain mysterious.
Nathaniel Robinson was born in Rhode Island in 1980. The artist received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 and a Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College in 2002.
Solo exhibitions of Robinson’s work have taken place at: Thomas Park Gallery in Seoul, South Korea; Feature, Inc. and Magenta Plains in New York City; Devening Projects and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Chicago, Illinois; Twig Gallery in Brussels, Belgium; and Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota; among others.
Group exhibitions showing Robinson’s work have taken place at: 33 Orchard, Martos Gallery, On Stellar Rays and White Columns in New York City; Adds Donna, Devening Projects and Heaven Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York; as well as venues in Brussels, Belgium; Dusseldorf, Germany; Istanbul, Turkey; Leipzig, Germany; and Melbourne, Australia.
In 2015, Robinson received a Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters and Sculptors Grant. In 2019, the artist’s work was included in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. In 2022, Robinson was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship.
Robinson’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including: Art Ltd.; Art in America; Artforum; Hyperallergic; the L Magazine; Modern Painters; New York Magazine; and The New York Times.
Robinson lives and works in Brewster, New York.
This evocative painting depicts a faint outline of a suburban or country house, as if seen in the middle of the night. The artist's work reflects on the ubiquity of particular subjects—exurban housing, rural landscapes and domestic still-lifes—to offer an intimate or resonant relationship with something normally passed by.More