I find myself continually drawn to artists who realistically paint the human figure, but reimagine it in unique ways. ( see: Deborah Scott, Susan Hall, Jeff Whipple & so many more I’ve yet to share with you ). So it goes without saying that the work of New York based painter Robin Williams ( no, not THAT Robin Williams ) got me really excited.
You know I love work that’s just a little bit cheeky. Williams’ paints scenes from childhood imaginations & experiences and portraits of figures dressed up in a stunning array of absurd costumes. Her wide-eyed, willowy figures have a Norman Rockwell-ish timelessness to them. But Williams invests in her gawky, pre-pubescent figures a darkness and absurdity missing from Rockwell’s happy-go-lucky world.
Her portrait figures pose stiffly in outlandish costumes and headresses, seemingly unsure of how they found themselves in such a situation. Perhaps speaking to how we begin as wide-eyed children, but as we grow into adults, we find ourselves wearing the most ridiculous costumes in order to appear to fit into someone else’s conception of who we are.
Other figures find themselves in the midst of a preposterous scene, almost like a dream of a childhood memory.. the way we remember places and events from childhood in a more fantastical, exaggerated way.
The portraits, for me, especially convey that feeling of what it was like to be a kid full of energy and vitality only to be forced to sit still, whether in school, church, etc. That feeling of a corralled hurricane, just waiting to break free of the constraints being forced upon us. On second thought, you don’t have to be a child to feel that way, do you?
Please visit Robin Williams’ website to see more of her work online.
The featured image is titled Yellow Hat. All images courtesy of the artist’s website.