Robyn Ross has a ‘thing’ about eyes, and paints them in all their intensity and beauty. In her current exhibition The Female Gaze, she plays with the way the masculine and feminine are categorised in life and depicted in art.
Her three works exploit the power of ‘the gaze’, both upon – and emanating from – her subjects, both male and female.
While adept across a number of artistic styles and mediums, Robyn loves portraiture. Her celebrity portraits include Russell Crowe, Sir Tim Rice, Bette Midler, Gordon Ramsay and Harry Connick Jr.
I caught up with Robyn in early September to ask her about ‘those eyes’ and just why she paints…
She recalls being inspired by one of her teachers at the age of 14. Laughing, she adds, “it was the only thing I won awards for in high school. I was always drawing faces; painting faces.”
“And I’ve just always been attracted by eyes. I think they tell so much about someone. When I’m working with my subject, I ask them not to smile because that makes their eyes squint. Your eyes can say more with a thought than a smile.”
Asked to describe her own work and what inspires her, the immediate response is “faces, colours and atmosphere – an atmosphere in a room of people, where there’s good tension, excitement or apprehension.”
“I want to engage the viewer. To do that, I love to have an extra layer for people to see. I seek to find an intensity, to show people how I see my subject, and the eyes are always the most expressive part of someone’s face.”
“That’s why I’m attracted to portrait painting. I like to meet people to get a sense of their personality. That’s not something you can get from a photo. I need to feel their essence.”
Talking specifically about the images in The Female Gaze, the conversation again returns to eyes. “In this series, the whole idea is the focus of the eyes,” Robyn explains. “The eyes tell you that it’s a face, but then I’ve played with the way the faces and the personalities are perceived, based on their sex.”
During our interview, Robyn reveals she’s inspired by Gustav Klimt. Her art practice is “very much about creating a mixture of both the real and unreal.” In this case, “unrealistic shapes around realistic faces.”
“I take an original idea, but the idea evolves as the painting progresses. Here, I’m challenging and augmenting traditional beliefs of masculine and feminine stereotypes.”
Past President of Portrait Artists Australia, Robyn has been Arts Ambassador for The Sir David Martin Foundation since 2012. Her international exhibitions include the Australian Embassy Washington, Invited Guest Artist at Biennale Izmir Turkey, Florence Biennale, Goethe Institute Germany and ART Monaco 2014.
Blog image: “Ollie 17 Yrs” © Emma Leslie, from Transcend: Portraits of Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth – one of two exhibitions opening as part of The Art of Gender, 1 September 6-8pm at Canvas Bar
The exhibition features work by Emma and painter Robyn Ross. In her documentary exhibition, Emma showcases 10 transgender children aged 5-17 in an environment in which they feel comfortable.
Emma’s documentary work has been published by the BBC and Buzzfeed. The BBC article follows up to discuss the complex circumstances that create our gender, an interesting read. One of Emma’s subjects was also the subject of Australian Story’s About A Girl, which aired in August this year.
Artist Robyn Ross explores depictions of femininity in her show The Female Gaze – an ironic take on the male gaze, and ideals of the feminine in art. More about Robyn’s work in an upcoming blog. (Image below: “Top Hat and Tails” © Robyn Ross)
25 – 29 July
Opening : Wednesday, 27 July
Join us : 6-8pm
Walls — Geoff Jaeger
Geoff Jaeger has taken photographs since a young child. His favourite photographic assignment is to document urban life and the built environment in unfamiliar cities.
These photographs in this exhibition were taken in Berlin during a visit in 2010. Generously on loan from their current owners, they feature the Berlin wall near and at the Eastside Gallery.
Factory 1 (Blog Image) is a cropped photograph of a mural by German artist Karsten Wenzel. The slogan “die Beständigkeit der Ignoranz” (the persistence of ignorance) feels very relevant today.
The image also brings to mind the question: who’s art is it anyway? A mural becomes a photograph, Karsten’s art photographically appropriated and the artist due a commission…
“My creative motivation arises from the need for soul-searching…reflections on power, and violence in open or structural shape emerge. Authorities, myths and forms of staging are questioned with the means of painting…” – Karsten Wenzel, 2009.
Original Artwork © Karsten Wenzel, 1990 / 2009
Photographic Image © Geoff Jaeger, 2010
Wolf&Kitten combines the artistic worlds of Dolan Reskov and Juliette Furio. It’s a collaboration between Dolan’s street art and Juliette’s fine art studies as a National Art School graduate.
It’s time to Take A Picture!
As part of the current GkJE 2 exhibition, you can win a free coffee. Take the most ‘unique’ selfie in front of the painting above – add these #hashtags when you post to Instagram #gkje2 – #ca_fanta_art – winners notified on Instagram by 5PM 09 March – Good Luck!