This painting and its depiction of trees in front of a house exemplify the artist's interest in close observation. This composition is part of a series that depicts commonplace yet frequently overlooked objects and settings: urban housing, rural landscapes and domestic still-lifes. The artist's rendering of these subjects offers viewer's a more intimate or engaged relationship. For some of these works, Robinson used photographs taken from a moving vehicle; in other works, the artist captures how a glimpse can include imagined content. These paintings evoke the fleetingness of everyday encounters and the elusiveness and uncertainty of experience.
The work of Robinson takes on a new level of importance in the context of the current social restrictions adopted to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus—including masks and partitions. Although the artist's exploration of the mysterious in the commonplace was not instigated by the pandemic, the depth of the cultural phenomenon may intensify the experience of his work.
When asked about these recent works, Robinson said: “Many of the paintings involve a sense of glimpses caught in passing. The puzzle I try to solve is how to preserve this quality [of] a certain informality . . . while also crystallizing a particular overall structure. I tend to think about time in general in layers—from immediate experience, through cycles of days and seasons, to historical, [and then] geological, time. I think about the nature of the present, what the present means on different time scales, and how we now seem to be at a point of inflection where disparate time scales which are supposed to sail on mostly oblivious to one another are suddenly converging.”
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.