ArtNews Review March 2007

ArtNews Review March 2007

By R.W. Firestone Art

ArtNews Review: Robert Firestone March 2007

ArtNews Review: Robert Firestone March 2007

Robert Firestone is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, and his works portray the human psyche. His paintings – colorful digital renderings of faces and figures – attempt to create a visual equivalent for the kind of emotional expression that is usually communicated verbally.

He achieved that goal in some of the better paintings in this show by re-creating the effect of a vivid memory or dream that passes through the mind for no more than a split second.

Firestone begins by using a computer to layer scanned abstract shapes and figurative photographs, often repeating a motif. He then prints the images on canvas. His mark is not visible, and the digital process serves to distance the viewer from the artist. The resulting images don’t seem to represent Firestone’s own reflections, but rather archetypes that could be lurking in anyone’s unconscious. The faces and figures in these works were either hazy or completely blacked out, like silhouettes, and there were no clues or details to suggest narratives or situations. Only color, texture and titles provided the Context.

In Death Scene 4 (2006), a group of silhouettes stand before a crackling neon background that is likely formed by branches of a tree. The acid colors pulse with an unnatural energy, as though they might be about to engulf the dark forms. At times the digitized splatters of paint recall the electrified colors and patterns of a brain scan. The image could even be mistaken for a psychedelic album cover, but the title suggests it’s more of a graveside tableau.

It is intense and visceral, like the traces of a Memory that can be felt but no longer pictured.

-- Meredith Mendelson