Lynden Sculpture Garden
Press Release

Robin Jebavy: Recent Paintings

Exhibition Opens with Reception, March 1

By - Feb 19th, 2015 03:15 pm

Robin Jebavy: Recent Paintings opens at the Lynden Sculpture Garden on Sunday, March 1, 2015 with a reception from 3-5 pm, and remains on view through May 31, 2015. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 West Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, WI 53217. Jebavy’s still life paintings of glassware–massed together in architectural formations– are less meticulous depictions of common objects than conduits into ecstatic states of being: they offer the viewer an experience that evokes the sublime, oceanic feelings of union with the mysterious “other,” of self with universe. Using a variety of strategies common to Baroque painting, yet recasting them in contemporary terms, Jebavy invites the viewer to “fall into the still life,” to get a sense of the self-world fusion that she, the artist, experienced when painting it.

On Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 3 pm, Robin Jebavy will offer a tour of the Lynden Sculpture Garden. This is one in an ongoing series of artist-led tours of the collection, and will conclude in the gallery where Jebavy will discuss her work. The walk is free to members or with admission to the sculpture garden.

Long fascinated by historical and contemporary still life paintings and their narrative, formal, and conceptual repercussions, Robin Jebavy has a particular interest in the Dutch Golden Age. In these paintings she finds the great paradox of Baroque art: that emotional extravagance and alluring sensual appeal can be governed by rigid compositional control and technical virtuosity without losing their intensity and power. Yet, she notes, “the handling of space and perspective in these paintings almost invariably suggests a distance between the artist and the still life forms.” In her work, Jebavy makes the still life contemporary by shifting from a third-person to a first-person viewing perspective–thus eliminating the distance between artist and object–while simultaneously invoking the intellectual clarity, explosive dynamism, celebratory tone and heightened attention to detail and ornamentation of the Baroque.

Glass is essential to Jebavy’s attempt to represent the elusive reality perceived by a person who has experienced a suspension of the ordinary distinction between a subjective self and the objective world. Working with layer upon layer of glassware imagery, she constructs crystalline labyrinths that complicate the relationship between field and figure. In her compositions, Jebavy often includes glassware forms that call to mind Baroque artworks, such as Bernini’s expansive Baldachin in St. Peter’s Cathedral, or illusionistic Italian ceiling paintings, building altar-like architectural spaces that are at once intimate and domestic, and monumental and transcendental. In recent paintings, she has experimented with the use of ornate cut glass to achieve the feeling of the “embroidered” interconnectedness of self and world.

The work in the exhibition is drawn primarily from two overlapping series. “Blue Still Life,” “Red Still Life,” and “Green Still Life” (all 2014) are horizontal and reference the table. Life-size, or slightly bigger, they suggest to the viewer that they are at that table, experiencing a metaphysical still life in an interior space. Jebavy fills each chromatically intense, high-contrast tabletop surface with monochromatic glassware forms. The compositions are constructed around a central upright vessel flanked by glass objects turned on their sides. These appear circular and evoke mandalas, a frequent motif in Jebavy’s work. Across the dream-like surface of the painting, the forms oscillate between abstraction and realization, image and reflection, figure and ground–as if emerging in and out of consciousness. Jebavy is equally fluent in oils and acrylics, and in this newest series she uses the water-based medium to create complex surfaces that recall the layering and glazing of oil painting while mimicking the transparency of glass.

“Sun King” (2008), “Jubilee” (2012-13), “Joy of Life” (2013), and “Bach’s Organ” (2014-15) are drawn from a series in which the glassware forms appear to expand beyond the domestic tabletop into a vast exterior space. Organized vertically, these symmetrical, architectural paintings reference altars and cathedrals. Their flattened compositions and use of decoration recall folk art, as if the shell of a Ukrainian Easter egg had been stretched on canvas.

“Outdoor Wedding” (2012) serves as a bridge between the two series. It shares the horizontal composition of the new series, with its strong center and movement between abstraction and realization, and it is similar to the second group in its geometric, cut glass imagery, altar-like presence, and reliance on stenciling and compositional improvisation. In “Outdoor Wedding,” as in the other oil paintings of the second series, Jebavy does not work out the entire composition in advance, but adds forms as the painting demands.

For Robin Jebavy, the technical facility of these paintings is subordinate to her metaphysical purpose. They beckon to us, daring us to part the curtain and once again experience the primal state of oneness with the universe we shared in the womb, and from which we all emerged.

About the Artist
Robin Jebavy received a B.A. in Visual Arts and Philosophy from Bennington College in 2004, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing, with a Sculpture minor, from the University of Iowa in 2008. She has received many awards, fellowships and grants for her work. Jebavy has recently been offered a residency grant at Vermont Studio Center, a residency fellowship at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, and was selected as a Robert Johnson Fellow at VCCA for a 2014 summer residency. She has had solo exhibitions in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and in Waterford and Waukesha, Wisconsin. Her next solo exhibition will be at the ICON Gallery in Fairfield, Iowa. Her paintings have been included in group exhibitions in Des Moines, Fairfield, and Iowa City, Iowa; and in Delafield, Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Waukesha, Wisconsin. Robin Jebavy maintains a studio in Waukesha, Wisconsin and teaches drawing at Carroll University. https://robinjebavy.wordpress.com/

About the Lynden Sculpture Garden
The Lynden Sculpture Garden offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures sited across 40 acres of park, lake and woodland. The sculpture garden is open to art and nature lovers of all ages on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm; and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 5 pm. We stay open until 7:30 pm on Wednesday evenings beginning May 14. Closed Thursdays. Admission to the sculpture garden is $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors; children under 6 and members are free. Annual memberships are also available.

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