In July and August, the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village will host artist Robert Cronin’s exhibit, “Imaginary Paintings” featuring a selection of his still life oil paintings from 2006-2009, many of which have not been shown since their debut at Zabriskie Gallery, New York City in 2007. A reception with refreshments for the artist will be held on Saturday, July 21 from 4pm to 6pm. This event is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be in on display through Saturday, August 11, 2018.
Working with oil on canvas, Robert Cronin has created imaginative still lifes that are buoyant arrangements of fictional objects. Traditionally, a still life has an academic stasis because it is arranged expressly for the artist’s observation. The term is a paradigm because it is easy: inanimate household objects make simpler subjects than buildings or people because they do not demand the artist leave the studio to deal with changing lighting or shifting expressions. But Cronin has foregone these conveniences opting instead to just make the whole thing up. The result is comic: where traditional still lifes are weighty and anchored, Cronin’s objects seem ready to drift away. Where objects are usually familiar, Cronin gives us strange inventions and juxtapositions: a glowing booklight emanating from a fleshy green fruit; a stack of gooey pastries next to notes pierced on a spindle. Along with a tiny man boating in a shallow pot, Cronin includes amorphous lumps and purely sculptural elements, testing what objects are allowed in a still life. At bottom they are funny and engaging because of their whimsical and mysterious nature. There are a lot of empty boxes and one wonders if the objects came out of or are going into them.
Cronin often works exclusively on a subject or style and then takes a turn toward a new commitment influenced by the previous work whether in painting or sculpture. It’s a recurring cycle. This concentration on imaginary still lifes followed a twelve-year commitment to narrative figure painting. The still life paintings gave way to abstracts: circles, squares, and frames. The artist said the changes are “like taking a vacation. To my surprise, toward the end the still lifes became more abstract, more about color, and flatter. In other words, I ended up with a new embrace of my many early years’ commitment to lyric abstraction in both painting and sculpture.”
Robert Cronin received his degrees at RISD and Cornell University and has taught at Bennington College and Brown University. His work is in the collections of many major museums including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Academy Museum, New York, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Robert Cronin’s work can be seen at robertcroninart.com and on Facebook.