Surface are to be congratulated on taking a risk in presenting work which could be seen as commercial, in a gallery which rightly congratulates itself on showing cutting-edge work.
In fact, Robert’s work is unusual in that he paints images that could be considered both topical and classical. He achieves a style which borrows heavily from traditional oil-painting. The similarities lie within the judicious and skilful application of a series of glazes, which lend his reflective work an Old Masters feel and appearance. Here, none more impressively than his biggest painting. This was done by a careful assembly of photographs of individual and collective punters at a disco. He then carefully arranges and copies this style into his largest canvas hanging in the Show his composition, ‘THE RAVERS’. It exemplifies Robert’s painstaking approach to art.
His range is varied and large – a diptych called ‘PLUM BLOSSOM’ – exemplifies this aspect of Robert’s work: a classical style of another Oriental tradition.
In a contrasting way, this ‘Dutch-masters’ style is brought-to consideration in ‘PLOUGHMAN’S LUNCH’ - at the other end of the scale, being one of the smaller paintings in his exhibition.
The hanging of the various paintings is good, also, which lends both intimacy and more out-there Expressionism. Then there is a nod more to Street Art with (‘GRAFFITI PARISIAN’) and other renditions of surfaces - tattooing, as in ‘INKING: CLOSE UP’...Again, these are painted on smaller canvasses. Yet another departure in choice of subject-matter, in the Artist’s Classical style, is a picture of toys (‘ROBOT, RED, SILVER’).
Clearly, Neil Roberts is unfazed in tackling a wide range of subject-matter in his practice; classical painting methods combined with and expressionistic painting of a wide variety of subject-matter. He bears witness in an IT-dominated world, selecting images to make us think, as well as appreciate his craft.
He engages with both traditional and contemporary subject-matter. As a painter myself, I am keen to see the craft so well exemplified. It is always a pleasurable learning experience to see such skill.
Surface Gallery is at 16 Southwell Road, Nottingham NG1 1DL