ROBERT OWEN/ARC ONE GALLERY

WALL SCULPTURE
UNTITLED K, 2011
40 X 34
PAINTED STEEL

I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THESE WORKS,  THE ELECTRIC COLOUR OF THE BLUE STEEL SHAPES AND THE SHADOWS THEY CAST ON THE WALL.

ROBERT OWEN HAS A CONTINUING FASCINATION WITH SPACE, LIGHT, SHADOW AND COLOUR IN HIS PRACTICE.  HE IS ALSO FASCINATED WITH GEOMETRY AND ITS ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES.

MUCH TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE IS LARGELY ABOUT SOLID FORM WHEREAS OWEN’S SCULPTURES OUTLINE SPACIAL FORM AND ITS CONSTANT REINVENTION IN MOTION WHOSE SHADOWS ARE SHIFTING DRAWINGS IN SPACE.

ONCE, WHEN GIVING A FLOOR TALK IN FRONT OF ONE OF HIS LARGE, COLOUR GRID, WALL PAINTINGS, HE INVITED THE AUDIENCE TO IMAGINE ELASTIC BANDS AROUND EACH OF THE COLOURED SQUARES, NEXT IMAGINE PULLING THEM

FORWARD … “THEN” HE SAID, ” YOU HAVE ONE OF MY SCULPTURES”.

 

PAINTING
LAKE MUNGO
2004

THESE PAINTINGS ARE EXQUISITELY SUBTLE, THEY CAPTURE THE DELICATE LIGHT THAT THE FULL MOON CASTS OVER THE LANDSCAPE FROM MIDNIGHT AT ITS FULLEST TO DAWN ON ITS DEPARTURE.

DIFFICULT TO PHOTOGRAPH, THE LAKE MUNGO SERIES IS BEST EXPERIENCED FIRST HAND. I HAVE ONE IN MY LIVING ROOM AND THE ENERGY IT PERMEATES IS TANGIBLE.

“THE TRANSITIONS OF NIGHT (LAKE MUNGO)” PAINTINGS ARE A SERIES OF RICH DARK TONALITIES OF THE COLOURS OF NIGHT IN THE OUTBACK ENVIRONMENT OF LAKE MUNGO WHERE OWEN SAT AND WATCHED THE COLOUR GRADUALLY RECEDE FROM THE LANDSCAPE AS THE SUN WENT DOWN”.

 

SCULPTURE
‘TEARS OF HISTORY’, 2000-2004

THESE TEAR SHAPED GRANITE SCULPTURES REPRESENT THE TEARS OF HISTORY, THE STOLEN GENERATION OR ANY TIME IN HISTORY WHERE LOSS OCCURRED.

IN OWEN’S OWN WORDS:

THE PASSAGE OF TIME AND THE TRACE OF HUMAN ACTIONS ARE INFERRED IN ‘TEARS OF HISTORY’, A SCULPTURAL FLOOR PIECE FIRST CONCEIVED IN 2000. THE HARD DENSITY OF THE BLACK STONE SCULPTURE IS A DISTILLATION OF WHAT THE SCULPTOR REGARDS AS THE SORROWS OF RECENT AUSTRALIAN HISTORY, PARTICULARLY RACE RELATIONS. THE ORIGINAL VERSION, ENTITLED ‘SORRY STONES (TEARS OF HISTORY)’, WAS PROPOSED FOR THE MELBOURNE MUSEUM AND WAS INTENDED TO BE A PARTICIPATORY WORK INSCRIBED WITH THE SIGNATURES OF ‘NON-INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS WHO WISH TO APOLOGISE FOR THE PAST ATTITUDES AND ACTIONS OF THEIR SOCIETY WHICH RESULTED IN THE FORCIBLE REMOVAL OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN FROM THEIR FAMILIES. THIS PROJECT DOES NOT ATTEMPT TO REPRESENT THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY OR THE SUFFERING ENDURED AS A RESULT OF THE STOLEN GENERATION.’

IN THIS NEW VERSION OWEN HAS STEPPED BACK FROM INSCRIPTION AND A MORE LITERAL SYMBOLISM AND NOW THE FORM AND MATERIAL ITSELF, AS WELL AS ITS VAST AGE, CARRY AN IMPUTED CONTENT. THERE IS A SOLIDITY TO THIS WORK WHICH CALLS ON SCULPTURE’S TRADITIONAL COMMEMORATIVE FUNCTION AND THE STILLNESS AND CONTEMPLATIVE QUALITY THIS ROOM EMBODIES RATHER THAN REPRESENTS A HISTORY OF PLACE. THE BLACK GRANITE HAS AN INTENSE DENSITY WITH AN IGNEOUS LAYERING VISIBLE WHICH CREATES FLASHES OF MINUTE LIGHT WITHIN THE BLACK, SUGGESTIVE OF A CONCENTRATED IMAGE OF THE NIGHT SKY.

IN ITS HIGHLY POLISHED STATE, IT SEEMS TO BOTH REFLECT AND YET DENY LIGHT. WHILE ENTITLED ‘TEARS OF HISTORY’, THE STONES ARE NOT TEAR SHAPED BUT ARE MORE LIKE CAPSULES, SUGGESTIVE OF SOME KIND OF ANCIENT CONTAINER. THEY ALSO RECALL MEDICINAL PILLS, POTENTIALLY A CURE THOUGH PERHAPS A PLACEBO WHICH CANNOT CORRECT HISTORY JUST AS IT SEEKS TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT”.