It should come as no great surprise that artist Robyn R.'s preferred media for painting are organic: wood and human skin. Her work embodies the parasitic and necessary relationship of life and vitality with death and decay. It obscures the traditional lines of demarcation between pain and pleasure, the beautiful and the grotesque, and it forces us to dig in the dirt a little. Nothing could be more natural, and, if you are of the correct mindset for it, more lovely.
For me, Robyn's work evokes the same feeling. The ruthless, yet morally neutral brutality of nature is intricately woven into the fabric of our existence. The rising creek is unable to not drink the cradle. It can't alter its own path. The vulture must pick at the carrion. The worm must feed. All that lives, must also, not live. As part of this framework, we people can choose to be horrified and to look away, or we can realize that because we are lucky enough to be part of the cycle of death and life, each feeding the other, that there is beauty in all of it: the entire circle. Robyn clearly has this vision.
Everything returns. Through layers of swamp, mud, sediment, rock, decomposed insects, animal bones, and lava, Robyn's paintings also return, as though spewed forth from the very ground beneath our feet, belched into the sky to mingle with fantastical skeletal, winged creatures, floating leaves and snow. Grime glistening in sunlight, if only for a fleeting moment.
We people may have forgotten that we are animals, but the ground which bears our weight, hasn't. It's a difficult thing to articulate, but I believe that what Robyn is trying to say with her art is that the facade of humanity actually makes us less human: that the conventions we have fabricated to shield us from our own impermanence, have obscured us from our true selves. We've created a false platform, a mirage above the dung beetles and the moss and rising creek. Believing that we are standing on this platform, protected from the things we fear, we fail to see all truths, and, in our blindness, we make societies, clans, nations, religions, and wars. All of these constructs are articles of exclusion, all derived from our "humanity," and our need to deny our own mortality. We are trapped in a gauze of our own design, wrapped in partiality, fearing the unknown, and, at times, each other.
This may all sound gloomy, but it really isn't. It's liberating and uplifting as you peel those layers of gauze away. The more I force myself to examine the things I fear, the less frightening they become. When I have less fear, I'm able to live in this day even more. I can live by my senses and be more connected to others. I can live more like a human being, and less like a human character.
I'm here today, and so is the scent of my dog's neck. Let me breathe it. I'm here today and so is my girlfriend. Let me touch her hand. I'm here today and so is curry. Let me taste it. I'm here today and so is the wind blowing through the treetops. Let me hear it. I'm here today and so is the bird on the perch. Let me see it. Robyn does, and it's in her work. For that, and for the pleasure of having been able to spend a few minutes in the woods, on a cold Sunday, with her, I am very happy that she is a citizen of Porkopolis.
Visit Robyn at Mother's Tattoo: http://www.motherstattoo.com/
See her canvases: http://www.flickr.com/photos/n0madical/sets/72157619327484812/
Her skate-decks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/n0madical/sets/72157606306614351/
Her paper: http://www.flickr.com/photos/n0madical/sets/72157612166329750/
Her skin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/n0madical/sets/72157605688763444/