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by Robert Bibler
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Immersion / Reflection #4
© Robert Bibler 1994

Mixed media drawing and collage on tan paper
22.5" x 30"

Artist Statement

The drawings and paintings I do are all acts of contemplation and investigation, and the subject matter of these drawings often suggests contemplation.  I am fascinated by how drawing or painting media and style affect the representation of objects.  I use representation to explore the relationships between the concrete and the abstract, between what can be regarded as material in a drawing or painting and what is spiritual, between the inference of past and present.

My work has been influenced more by film directors ––Fritz Lang, Bernardo Bertolucci, Josef von Sternberg, Andrei Tarkovsky, to name only a few–– than by any other group of artists.  I enjoy works of art that attempt the kind of complex visual associations that the best films can achieve.  The implicit narrative potential in the juxtaposition of images is rooted in the mechanisms of the mind, and film editing strategies have influenced me a great deal.  Hence, I utilize multiple approaches to the juxtaposition of images in my work––sometimes in a disjunctive, Eisensteinian, formalist way, other times in the more (apparently) seamless style of classical cinema.  I especially enjoy the artificial world of classical cinema (and Renaissance paintings)––self-enclosed, highly structured, and potentially abundant in meaning.

Renaissance space, images, and allusions are also a touchstone in my work.  These Renaissance associations are presented ironically, symbolically, or paradoxically “in a post-modern context,” as one critic put it.  The Renaissance “window” space of pictorial illusionism fascinates me, and my work makes reference to it regularly.

I often return to ambiguously contained environments and translucent or transparent barriers––represented by glass––as a recurring metaphor.  The human figure is also a central concern, and its occurrence in my drawings and paintings varies from full figures to a single hand.  Multiple figures in some of my work introduce elements of estrangement, a compartmentalization that might suggest alienation, but represents to me more a condition of reflection, of subconscious musing, of the creative / imaginative functioning of the mind as at once magical and isolating—fundamentally solitary.  Often, I try to achieve a dramatic conflict between the realist, classical representation I usually employ and the insistent discontinuity caused by the intangible glass surfaces, reflections, water vapor—or the composition itself.  Clouds, glass objects, reflections, shadows, and art historical detail references––presented as representations of representations–– all serve to express an anxiety regarding the slippery nature of human perception, at once assisted and compromised by the workings of the unconscious mind as it transforms the material world and reorders time and space.  A piece of paper or a canvas is a tantalizing field to explore the paradox of the spiritual and the material, and to evoke––with what I hope is some degree of playfulness and mystery––the difficulty of distinguishing existence and reality from its reflection.

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