In our current social climate of political divisions, nearly constant advertisements, instant judgments, provocative statements and behavior, and the consistent feeling of being on the defense, even in your own community, there is very little comfort in the public space. Yet, stumbling upon one of Robert Montgomery’s text-based artworks, in any of their forms, breathes a brief and warm breath of comfort into any viewer’s lungs. Scottish wordsmith and artist, Robert Montgomery creates deep-reaching text-based billboards, text signs lit on fire, text fields in more rural areas, and other fascinating poetic installations.
His prose poetry billboards are often seen in artistic as well as advertising meccas: L.A., New York, Berlin, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Miami, Brussels, Tokyo, as well as Istanbul, Austria, Greece, India, Netherlands, and many more. His poetry is melancholy and feels as if it is intended for every individual personally. Placed in specific neighborhoods and high-traffic areas, Montgomery’s billboards were designed to not only infiltrate our peripheral vision en route to our respective destinations, but also to invade our collective consciousness with emotion and character—they cut straight to the heart.
He is creating a meaningful private voice in a public space. He hijacks the tops of buildings, billboards, empty fields, and even bus stops to spread his intimate, self-reflective poetry across the world for over 15 years now. Originally it was his illegal art obsession, a kind of poetic street art following in the wake of the Situationists from the 1960s, the poetic Dada revival, and other guerrilla art movements he held dear. And unlike many street artists, Montgomery never got in any real trouble for his “brandalism,” as many media outlets have dubbed it. Strangely, it wasn’t long before companies started supporting Montgomery’s inclinations and public poetic projects, seeing the genius in his simplicity, and the power of his voice.
Montgomery is a strange phenomenon in the art world, bleeding into both poetry and publishing, bringing innovation and new creative expression to poets and artists alike. Montgomery is also the Associate Publisher of British magazine Dazed & Confused and also makes simple, powerful projects with fashion brands and non-profit art organizations, across the globe.
Contemporary advertisers have mastered the crossover art of persuasion aesthetics, but the poetic prose of Robert Montgomery is a kind of street art that had not even been seen by most people. Harking back to the genius of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger who utilized urban spaces as canvases for their text-based artwork, Montgomery’s subversive text-based works draw on intimacy and empathy to help him create critical commentary on the very thing he is appropriating for his own work, advertising and consumerism, hitting us where it counts; helping to broaden the conversation on life and art.