May 16, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

Artist Robert Tynes finds meaning in juxtaposition

3 min read

As though guided by Joseph Campbell’s famous maxim, artist Robert Tynes has been following his bliss ever since he was a youngster.  

“In about the fifth grade in Birmingham, Alabama, my social studies teacher recognized I could draw pretty well so she set me off on drawing portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington,” Tynes said. “I didn’t have to take notes so I felt pretty privileged and she would hang my drawings up around the room. That was the beginning of my feeling maybe I wanted to be an artist.”

He was also interested in magic tricks and practical jokes which carried over into his work. Then, by and by in the ’70s he came across the illusions created by Stephen Posen juxtaposing photographic realism and seemingly whole objects like garments in dry-cleaning bags which were actually rendered in oil. Among many other influences, he was taken with the pictorial surrealism of Jean Miro. In grad school he was told to come up with his own distinctive style. And so he decided to combine abstraction, hyper-realism and, in a sense, Trompe L’oeil or “tricks of the eye” — shades of the days when he delved in magic. During an art history course, Rene Magritte’s thought-provoking images in unusual contexts “blew his mind” as a major influence.

Artist Robert Tynes juxtaposes items not usually considered as going together.

This is how he summed it all up: “Juxtaposing things like Magritte in a dramatic way really excited me. Pairing two different approaches to painting created a tension and a challenge to make them work together compositionally. The color and everything produces a surprise as the stillness of the still life and the activity and movement of the brush-marks feed off each other.”

For instance, in a work he calls “Branching out” the painting of a branch jutting from a piece of birch plywood coupled with the shadow it would have caused creates the illusion and surprise of a three dimensional object along with the imagery behind it.

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