The beauty of the new

You can’t buy creativity, though wouldn’t that be something, tins of ingenuity lined up neatly on supermarket shelves, Andy Warhol’s image stamped on everyone. Maybe one day.
For most people though, life arguably gets in the way of imagination, a busy day at the office followed by a hectic social engagement, repeated five times. Weekends we give to slumber, domestic life and catching up with everything we missed throughout the week.
Thankfully, there are those whose chosen vocation affords them the time to be enterprising, day dreaming a prerequisite of their employment. From philosophers to mathematical physics, a day of whimsical, wild and offbeat thinking is a good day.
Jeff Robb is one said individual whose inventive talents have resulted in works of art that are unlike anything seen before. The artist is as contemporary as they come, working as he does across a wide range of fascinating media.
This includes painting, lenticular photography, bronze and silver cast sculpture, reflection and transmission holography, photography, film, laser light and sound installations.
What makes him such an exciting artist is his fresh approach to art, which he describes as 3D pictures without glasses. His canvasses are what one would expect in a mature digital age, circa 2050. They echo of a world that is to come.
As has been noted, Robb is one of very few artists to be exploring the “aesthetic and technical possibilities of lenticular photography” in art. The ability to transform a technology’s original raison d’être and give it an “art makeover” is laudable.
For his latest work, however, he hasn’t so much departed with the quasi-physical portraits he is best known for, more he has changed the subject. Reminiscent, at least stylistically, of a classic Jackson Pollack, thick splashes of paint of all colours deliver something that is all at once familiar and vague.
Here we experience depth in a way that is almost inconceivable with a typical flat canvas. An observer has the ability to change their relationship with one of Robb’s works by simply shifting their vantage point.
This might not seem particularly novel, given the same experience can be enjoyed when shifting around a sculpture, but contextually, it is radically different. In this instance, there is the capacity to see sides of brushstroke or splodges of paint that technically should not be the case.
“All who encounter these images are amazed by the sheer vibrancy of colour and sense of movement Robb has created in the work,” comments Richard Mauger, co-director of Mauger Modern Art, where a new exhibition of his work has just gone on show.
“This is an experience of extreme 3D depth and projection, unparalleled in contemporary art.”
The shock of the new never fails to excite and confound. Like the Earthrise photograph taken by the astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission, which showed our planet from deep space, Robb’s work is on first sighting dumbfounding. It makes you giddy.
While the true test of its critical value is still hard to gauge, let’s not worry about that for now. Superficial subjectivity has its merits and, at the moment, it pays not to think so much and simply enjoy something strange and beautiful.
Macroland by Jeff at Mauger Contemporary Art is on until October 24th.
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