A new exhibit at Orlando City Hall features the paintings and graphic art of Winter Park creator Chris Robb, with a piece highlighting lines through 40 years of drawing, painting, printmaking, stencils and ideas.
Eight wooden panels, each 48 x 48 inches, fit together to form an installation 8 feet high and 16 feet wide. This piece, titled “GRIDS”, includes more than 100 individual paintings and is the focal point of “Physical Currency”, the solo exhibition featuring Robb, now open at the Terrace Gallery on the first floor of City Hall.
Presented by Snap! Orlando, the show also features large-scale paintings that Robb often used his hands to paint in gestural, fluid motion.
“Walking into a painting, I approach it with what Buddhists call a ‘beginner’s mind’. I start from almost nothing and discover painting as I go, often,” Robb said. “I think it’s a good thing that viewers are finding out as they go along.”
In some works it is possible to see the influence of advertising and graphic design, while other pieces reveal nods to pop art or street art. Some paintings carry the movement and emotion of abstract expressionism.
“I think the essence is the physicality of his art, it touches everything he does, including with his fingerprints,” Patrick Kahn told Snap! Founder and Director of Orlando.
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Robb, who was born in Ohio and raised in Winter Park, graduated from UCF in 1980 and immediately moved to New York’s Lower East Side, where he was inspired by other designers.
“There was a place called Club 57. [Keith] Haring was hanging out there, just like [Jean-Michel] Basquiat and Kenny Scharf,” he said. “No one was famous back then, it took a few years before someone hit it big.”
Some works have hints of social commentary, drawing inspiration from writer Aldous Huxley, Eastern religion and philosophy. Others feature glimpses of the artist’s personal past with depictions of his father or childhood photos of Robb on his skateboard.
Yet he prefers each piece to be left wide open to interpretation.
“There’s a painter, Joan Mitchell, who said, ‘People don’t demand explanations about music, like jazz. With painting, for some reason they want an explanation,'” Robb said. “It’s a similar thing, like jazz music to me. It’s the notes. You hit notes as you go.”
“Chris Robb: Physical Currency”, presented by Snap! Orlando, kicks off with a public opening reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today and is viewable through Sept. 11 at 400 S. Orange Ave. in Orlando. The gallery will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to Sunday. For more information, visit snaporlando.com.