A new series of paintings by Nathaniel Robinson currently on view at Devening Projects in Chicago captures seemingly ordinary images one might typically seen from a train or car: snapshots of white fences, the backyards of suburban homes, blurred shrubs and woods, and other unremarkable sights. Critically, however, the paintings — which are based on pictures Robinson takes on the train from Brewster, NY to the city — convey a strong sense of loneliness and ennui, a feeling that has become all too pervasive during the pandemic. In blurred strokes depicting small suburban backyards and empty space, Robinson has managed to capture a sense of both loneliness and fleetingness, and has himself commented regarding his paintings that it is not necessarily the image that makes them remarkable, but the feeling associated with them. In class, we’ve been learning about representation and how to depict things, places, ideas, and more. I thought this article was really interesting because it talks not just about capturing a place, but also capturing the feelings and essence of that place, and one’s perspective of that place (in Robinson’s paintings, for example: blurred and fleeting vs crisp and frozen); truly rich representation is often multi-layered and captures more than just one facet of its subject.
If you’d like to read more, you can find the full article here.