Jeff Robinson (born 1959, Summitt, NJ) enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute in 1979 to study sculpture under the tutelage of Dale Eldred and Jim Leedy. "It was the materials - clay, wax and bronze - that initially drew me in. I worked hard to develop the skills to create something tangible, something original and hopefully something beautiful."
After the rigors of academia, Robinson began to shift his focus from sculpture to painting. "The change in medium suited my temperament. Painting allowed me to get to ideas quicker." He stayed in Kansas City and partook of its burgeoning art scene at the Random Ranch and Left Bank galleries. From conventional subject matter came unconventional work - The Deconstructed Figures and Campfire Girls series. "I liked to take things apart and put them back together again a little differently."
After a decade of work in Kansas City, Robinson was ready to move back east. In 1992 he was living in New York City and painting at a prodigious rate. In the words of critic Lee Graham his work was "simultaneously rough hewn and delicately handled." Figures took a backseat to flags of his own invention and iconography (e.g. key, tooth, bridge, dog). The works were "adulations of symbols, odes on objects." Building up a canvas in layers of paint and then coaxing an image from this rich surface the work took on an almost sculptural quality. To add to the overt physicality, he would frequently cut and reassemble the canvas as he proceeded to its conclusion.
Within his first months New York, he began exhibiting at the Meisner/SoHo gallery and continued to show there over the next few years. In the mid-90's Robinson was taking part in the rebirth of art in New York by involving himself in several group shows around the city. "There were a lot of groups then like GenArt and Oracle that could bring together huge numbers of artists. It was very exciting." He also began exhibiting in other galleries, including the project room of the Jason McCoy Gallery.
The design elements of the Flags informed a new series inspired by a childhood favorite, Spirograph. "Initially, I was exploring the subtleties of design but I got caught up in the sculptural possibilities of it. I made a large 12:1 scale Spirograph machine out of wood which I used it in the creation of the original Spiro series. It was important for me to go through the process of designing and making it if for no other reason than to bring me back to working three-dimensionally."
The shirt drawings and paintings were born of this restlessness with subject and material. As always, inspiration comes from unexpected sources. The idea came to Robinson in NYC via a chance encounter with a friend who was on his way to Goodwill with a pile of clothes. Robinson saw "the shirt," was struck by its graphic quality, put it on - added the one he had been wearing to the pile - and wore it home. So began the series, Same Shirt Different Day.
The shirt drawings and paintings were born of this restlessness with subject and material. As always, inspiration comes from unexpected sources. The actual shirt came to Robinson in NYC via a chance encounter with a friend who was on his way to Goodwill with a pile of clothes. Robinson saw "the shirt" and, struck by its graphic quality, put it on - added the one he had been wearing to the pile - and wore it home. So began the series, Same Shirt Different Day.
Having spent countless hours in dusty and cobwebbed used book stores combing the shelves for first editions, Robinson routinely saw stacks and stacks of books. This is where an idea began to form -- slowly but surely. As an avid reader, books have always been important to Robinson but it wasn't until he was combing through his own collection that he got the inspiration to paint them. The Libris series was born.
Over the past five years Robinson has worked concurrently on the two series: Same Shirt, Different Day and Libris. "Both series explore rhythm and movement. Each exists as it's own entity, each compliments the other."
Robinson lives and works in the Hollywood Hills with his wife, author/illustrator Courtney Watkins, daughter Mary Charles and Cosie the dog.