A look at the portfolio of Austin based artist Robert Page will remind you of novel ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, and a lot of literary references on the animals we raise and the animals we are. But if his work is certainly thought-provoking, there is also a certain lightness radiating from his canvas. This self-taught painter perfectly assumes the low-brow, even a bit grunge, aesthetics of his creations. They are close to the pop surrealistic movement, even if Robert Page tells us, “I’m no Ron English, but yes, maybe to some degree, I’m a pop surrealist.”
So, if the surrealism you find in his artwork is probably more in the beholder’s eye, his influences are quite classic. He says: “I have studied a lot of my favorite painters (past and present) trying to dissect their technique. I like having a flat surface, not a lot of heavy brushstrokes in my work; ironically some of my favorites have a heavy stroke to their work. Maybe I just admire something I cannot do?”
His obsession is colors: “I feel like I have stolen Renoir’s palette…” And indeed, his paintings are whimsical, with a lot of vibrant tints and joyful details that seem to come from a funfair or a LSD trip.
His process is simple: “Sounds, words, a joke a friend may have said will spark an image in my head. I feel like my work is an ongoing conversation. I can look back at older paintings I’ve done and see how I got to where I am currently. Visual cues also, like the other day: I was walking by this furniture store front window. There’s a vase with faux roses on a table, and for a second, the way two of these roses were stacked atop of each other, and looked like a gorilla in profile. So, that got me thinking of gorillas dancing, gorillas eating, wearing clothes, fighting, etc…”
But don’t think that Robert Page is a daydreamer. When it comes to work, he is disciplined and focused. He explains: “I have a job-“job” like most people do. So time management is key. I had to teach myself from an early age to work fast because time is limited. I think a lot of people would perceive an “artist” as being messy and kind of scatterbrained. I’m very much the opposite. I like a clean work space. I feel like I can focus more without the distraction of a mess. I will clean and shower. It has become very much a ritual.”
The Texas based artist has also some ambitions and projects for the future, and he’s willing to extend his experiences to other mediums.”I have been sculpting this head for months; I’d like it to be a vinyl art toy. Also, a friend and I are planning on starting sometime early next year; a short animation film from an idea I had a while ago… just for fun.”
Fun is the most important thing in art, of course. As well as connecting with the public. Robert has a few ideas that would be good for some solo shows, even if he has no venue(s) yet. But he certainly enjoys the reaction of the art lovers to his work and the surprising meaning they can find in it. “Their interpretation is usually better.” he says.