November 2 - December 2, 2023
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 2, 5:30-7:30 PM
Dolby Chadwick Gallery is thrilled to announce Buoyant, an exhibition of recent work by Robert Kingston, on view during the month of November.
Set against a foundation of muted, off-white acrylic, Kingston’s paintings are deceptively soft-spoken creations. Sit with them in meditation and their labyrinthine surfaces quickly give way to reveal countless layers of movement, gesture, and erasure. From their depths arises a delicate balance between spontaneity and intention, wherein improvisation converges with deliberate and controlled brushwork. Free-floating forms—from organic shapes and expressionistic gestures to highly precise line drawings—pass through and across the compositions like animated musical notes. Reminiscent of archaic cave drawings as well as modern-day pictograms and scientific symbols, these forms convey a lineage that spans the annals of history while nevertheless finding firm footing in the contemporary.
Kingston’s color palette extends these temporal tensions, underscoring the shape-shifting quality of the works. Tan washes, deep ochers, and brilliant golds, for instance, conjure sand and sun but also flesh. Aquamarine and teal patches rise like expanses of sea and sky, furthering a landscape reading, while smoky grays signal the shadowy underlayers of dreams and the unconscious. Much like in the art of Mark Rothko and J.M.W. Turner, color is used to help summon a sensory experience that transcends the everyday, the here-and-now, guiding viewers toward something infinitely more vast. And yet, at the same time, textural nuances akin to geological erosion and abrasion—even bone—transport us back to solid ground and its ancient, time-bound history.
Among Kingston’s strongest affinities is Abstract Expressionism and, more specifically, Cy Twombly, with both artists sourcing from Classical mythology and employing distinct visual languages brimming with cryptic motifs and emotive, calligraphic scrawlings. Their raw, creative visions are epic in nature, shot through with dazzling narrative arcs that can only be resolved by expanding one’s own vision beyond the literal and the linear. In Kingston’s case, part of the quest, it seems, is to allow oneself to be swept into the works’ ethereal rhythms, to become part of the creation, riding its waves as they lap on shores fit for Homeric heroes and heroines.
This newest body of work finds resonance with the poem “Manger of Incidentals” (2006), by the American poet Jack Gilbert (1925–2012), which describes the world as unending and disorganized—an “absurd excess.” And yet, as “momentary,” “temporary,” and “brief” beings, we have a unique foothold that grants us the power and perspective to make meaning, however brief. Such is “the source of our beauty”; whether as artists, poets, or simply creators, our mortality attunes us to a way of seeing that can synthesize the disarray into significance, emotion, magic. The poem concludes: “We are a singularity that makes music out of noise / because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness / and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.” It could be said that Kingston’s paintings bear witness to this saga; by briefly holding the kaleidoscopic whirling of the cosmos steady, they stage a porthole, an ingress, that allows us to forge connections and purpose amid the chaos.
Robert Kingston was born in 1955 in Sungei Gerong, Indonesia, and currently lives in Altadena, California. He earned his BFA in 1986 from California State University Long Beach and his MFA in 1988 from Claremont Graduate University. In addition to exhibiting across the United States, his art has been reviewed in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Artweek, L.A. Style, L.A. Weekly, and Artscene. This will be his fifth solo show at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.