The Drawers - Robert Bigelow Commentary written by Julie Oakes
Robert Bigelow - C-RBB 6x6 2010
The use of the word 'practice' to describe the working routine of an artist has come into vogue. Originally, it was a word more commonly associated with a medical doctor and yet the denomination for an artist is also fitting for both the doctor and the artist demonstrate a dedication beyond a job description. Both the 'true doctor' and the 'true artist' work from a point of calling. A calling connotes ethical, moral and even spiritual motivation. Another similarity between the dedicated medic and the authentic artist is the propensity to research; adhering to thorough investigation while being sufficiently open to change to allow for new discoveries. This kind of research requires specialisation, patience, focus and astuteness. Both the artist and the medical doctor must be informed, alert and able to respond to new situations with presence of mind.
Robert Bigelow's recently accomplished work is a series of drawings - over two hundred in less than a year - using just red, black and blue. His practice is a perfect example of inspired research. With an attention to detail often associated with the scientific method, Bigelow has executed a concentrated body of work that records the visual charting of his mind as carefully as an electroencephalograph. He has recorded the aesthetic decisions of a carefully tended consciousness. Over time, he has elected to respond to variables in shape and composition while maintaining an identifiable 'look'—the identifiable style of a 'Bigelow' - a style that has been present in his work over the past forty years since he departed from a more confined expression that was aligned with surrealism and a California funk. The 'Bigelows' of the eighties, nineties and into the new millennium have displayed a fluid, energetic, open-ended, juicy exploration using the elements of abstraction. He relied more on form as manifest in shape, colour or gestural markings than in line per se. This new work, however, with obsessive cross hatching and outline, grant equal weight to line as he confines himself to two or three colours of ink. RBB 2010 (Red Black Blue) echoes the kookiness of the works from the seventies with a graffiti sensibility that comes across like an abstract tattoo. Quite often emblematic, the floating zaniness of Kandinsky comes to mind or the visual vocabularies of Leger, Twombly, Tchelitchew, Miro and Ernst, yet the over-riding effect of this series is more akin to contemporary than to modernism. These Bigelow creations relate back to the earlier work, the California funk and the absolute hip-ness of Bigelow's perspective.
Bigelow has numbered each piece so that his permutations of slicing-and-dicing chart the chronology of his decisive directions. C-RBB 2010 presents one-hundred drawings on paper, each 6 x 6 inches, done in red black and blue ballpoint pens.
Copyright © 2010, Julie Oakes