Event Spotlight: Old Talks with New Icons, Solo Show by Philip A. Robinson Jr. at the Untitled Space
Old Talks with New Icons, the solo exhibition by the award-winning artist Philip A. Robinson Jr., is opening at The Untitled Space on November 20th and will be on view through December 17th. The art show — a mixed-media collection featuring life-sized figurative sculptures as well as a series of hand-cut works on paper — is the first for the artist at the space, who is newly represented by the gallery.
Using natural materials and dendrochronology — the science of dating events and variations in environment in former periods by comparative study of growth rings in trees and aged wood — Robinson is commenting on the temporality of everything: people, life, and even the cosmos. But, he is also addressing the evolution of man-made constructs, both tangible (like commodities, technology, or industry) and intangible (such as politics, identity, or race).
His work is informed by the influence of his Cherokee/ African-American mother and his Trinidadian/ British father. Take, for example, the Cherokee, who refer to trees as Standing People. This is significant considering that many of Robinson’s sculptures are of different individuals. More importantly, both Native American and African-American cultures associate different tree varieties with different qualities, such as walnut with clarity and focus; oak with strength, safety, character and resilience; and maple with survival and endurance.
Using a mix of tree varieties helps Robinson add nuance to his work. “The linear marks and structural beauty in spalted maple, the varied palate of tinted tones in walnut and the enduring history of the red oak trees,” reasons the artist in the show's official press release, “metaphorically define and contextualize selfhood as part of a global discourse about power paradigms that delineate culture and ethnicity as a valued product and object d’art within the marketplace.”
As such, Robinson’s work poses a number of interesting questions, such as: Who controls culture? How is culture sustained and influenced? How does the relationship between hegemonic and marginalized cultures influence value? And how are cultures exploited for personal gain? Simply put, his “work affirms the vital connection between the foundation of one’s identity and the necessity for corrective historical discourse to avoid becoming extinct.”
Check out Old Talks with New Icons at The Untitled Space in New York City, located on 45 Lispenard Street, or RSVP an invite for the opening reception happening on November 20th. Interested parties can preview the show between 4pm and 5pm, or stop by for the official opening between 5pm and 8pm. For more information, please see here.
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