Introducing Gena Brodie Robbins
Gena Robbins has burst onto the scene at dk Gallery and has gallery goers talking. A Georgia native, she has grown her talent through various roles at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) and other award-winning pursuits. Her beautiful figurative and abstract works have attracted a lot of attention– and have you seen her bees?
A productive artist, Robbins has a lot to say through her paintings. You can read about her inspiration in her bio here. We spoke with her about her most current work:
dk: What is your favorite series of work so far?
Brodie Robbins: Even though all of my series of works have developed into their own unique approach to subject matter and materials, it is the Illumination series that has warranted further investigation. Many times, I have begun a new series, only to abandon it after painting eight or nine works. Either, the series was simply a means to work through formal painting issues, or the series just did not reveal the needed outcome to continue developing into resolved, mature paintings.
The Illumination series, however, has maintained a continuing mystery that I have yet to understand. Each new painting in this series is a continuation of the previous one. At times, I have had several paintings up at once, painting all of them together, simultaneously.
The subject matter of the Illumination series centralizes around the figure, and is painted using abstract fields of color similar to the painting approaches of the Bay area figurative painters. Augmented with suggested marks, the human form is defined just enough to reveal position, mood, or movement.
What is unique about this series, is that it is the first time I approached the highly abstracted figure with elements of dramatic shadow and light.
I also found that when beginning paintings in this series, using a dark palette gives rise to a sense of the unknown and leads to a deeper excavation of paint; scraping, wiping out, and the discovery or revealing of form. Lighter colors are at first conservatively applied, then eventually aggressively placed throughout other areas of the painting, evoking a feeling of ambiguity and transformation. Elements of the human condition and emotion seem to then emerge.
It is this challenging exploration that has led to a revelation that has yet to come to a resolve. I am therefore still investigating this series and hope to continue creating new and exciting abstract figurative works.
dk: You have a variety of styles that you work in. Do you have a preference among your abstract, semi abstract, narratives….etc.? Talk about your use of different genres to convey your message.
Brodie Robbins: Interestingly, from time to time, people who are not familiar with my work may feel I have a variety of styles. However, I don’t necessarily feel that I work in a variety of styles, per se. Instead, I’d like to state that I have always created bold works, filled with strong color and variety of mark that have an abstract quality about them…no matter what the subject matter. These approaches to the various subject matter at hand, may transition and evolve from series to series.
While in graduate school, at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, I found myself painting mainly large-scale abstract, expressive paintings filled with subtle elements of time, loss, fleeting memory, transformation, and existence.
These elements included repeated tally marks, ladders, numbers, such as 0.000, and repeated circular forms, scribbles and loops. The act of wiping away of paint to reveal the image underneath was also part of the process of investigating time within the sequence of the act of painting.
While finishing up my thesis exhibition of seven, eight foot abstract paintings, I was approached by a curator who needed someone to paint large scale expressive horse paintings for an upcoming exhibition called, “Show Horse.” This curator knew I had painted animals at one time, before entering the MFA Painting program at SCAD, and also knew I could paint on a large scale. So, I painted four 6 x 6 foot horse paintings for the exhibition which surprisingly, sold right away.
I found the horse to be a fascinating form; fleeting, full of spirit and motion, a subject I felt I could indeed investigate, so I did. This led to a solo museum show of twenty-four horse paintings.
I then decided to investigate other animals after painting the horse, focusing on birds of prey, such as the owl, ravens, the fox, caribou, and even domestic animals, such as the dog. It has been my goal, when creating the animal series, to capture the fleeting motion and ephemeral quality of various animals, their positions, shapes, and movements.
While teaching high school art, college fundamental courses in art, and workshops, I found myself really enjoying instructing others on how to draw the human figure.
My demonstrations of how to create quick gesture drawings of the human figure and how to draw their contours eventually focused on value gradation development. This led to my own further investigation of the human figure, eventually evolving over time into a series of semi-abstract figure paintings.
You don’t want to miss these bold, colorful expressions by Gena Brodie Robbins. Check out some of her work in the current show, On The 6th Day.