Richard Roblin, Seen and Unseen

November 12 - Janaury 14 | Left: Richard Roblin Shift Series, Oil on canvas, 40” x 26'“, 1986 

Archive Contemporary presents an exhibition of fourteen paintings on canvas and paper by Richard Roblin, widely recognized as a contemporary master of Canadian abstract art. “Seen and Unseen” offers a glimpse into seven prolific decades of creation, ranging from Roblin’s iconic “Stain” paintings in the early seventies, to his more recent “Here and Now” series. The gallery’s closing exhibition of 2020 - a year marked by turmoil, this exhibition offers a grounded and evocative palette of paintings by an artist who has dedicated his life to transmitting optimism and inner peace through colour, shape and line.

Roblin spent his early years in Saskatchewan, and later moved to Montreal where his artistic career was launched. During a visit to a Jean Paul Riopelle exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Roblin was introduced to the palette knife painting, which greatly influenced his technical practice through the decades. More than paintings, these works are sculpted topographies. In their recesses both subtle and explosive colours, like revelations, are exposed.

Richard Roblin exhibited his first abstract works in Montreal with Quebec’s major artists in 1961, alongside Jean Paul Riopelle and Goodrich Roberts. The following year, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts acquired his work for their permanent collection. By the late sixties, Roblin had exhibited widely in commercial galleries and museums, and in 1970 he debuted his first major show of “constructive” paintings in Montreal. Over the course of his career Roblin’s painting has featured extensively in private and corporate collections, galleries, and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Arts, Bermuda National Gallery and numerous international art fairs.

Left: Richard Roblin On The Threshold Acrylic on canvas, 22.5” x 22.5”, 2003 | Right: Dancing In Time Acrylic on canvas, 54” x 54”, 2012

In the early seventies, Roblin’s previous study of Japanese textile art influenced his “Stain” paintings, in which he incorporated natural dyes in his painting process. “Stain” paintings were acquired by both the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art.

In the early 1980’s, while on a meditation retreat in Mexico, Richard Roblin was invited to the home and studio of the Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragan. Roblin had long admired Barragan’s deep passion for the use of vibrant colour incorporated into his architecture. This experience was of formative creative inspiration. Again, geometrically constructed paintings, the Wallseries and Shift series, were imbued with the transcendental qualities of colour field abstraction. Roblin writes: “I use the painted wall, in light and shadow, as a metaphor for the spiritual journey. The application of complementary colours, layer by layer, instills the impression of the dynamic flow of life and the creative spirit which pervades it.”

Left: Richard Roblin Fallingwater, Oil on canvas, 54” x 94'“ 2008 | Right Basho’s Teahouse, Oil on Arches paper, 24” x 40”  

Utilizing the primary elements of form — the point, the triangle, the square, and the circle superimposed upon luminous grounds of color, Roblin’s Fallingwater paintings negotiate the boundaries between physical observation and metaphysical aspiration. Roblin writes: “I have always perceived the act of painting as a dance, and in a very direct way, this is true. This dance process begins on the floor as I begin to map out the forms within the painting. The preliminary drawing is then overlaid with washes of primary colours. Several compositions engage one formal dynamic. The circle, the square, and the triangular compositions are painted in sequence, one over the other. As the process continues, the painting is then mounted on a stretcher. The flow of the paint on the surface of the painting becomes part of the drawing within that work. As the painting is turned from one side to another, as I move around the work, the paint is allowed to flow in many directions creating its own geometry. Heavier applications of colour direct from the tube enhance the clarity and luminosity of the piece. A continuous movement of the drawing motion expands into fields of luminous colour, as each layer, each sequence of this dance, merges into a unity of colour and form. A sound of poetic clarity emerges.”

Seen and Unseen” will include several never-before-seen works, including a series of collectable small format sketches on Arches paper.

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Left: Richard Roblin Autumn Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 22.5”, 2007 | Middle: Richard Roblin Como Acrylic on canvas, 80” x 54”, 2010 | Right: Reverie Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2014

Left: Richard Roblin Identity, Acrylic and Dye on Canvas, 50” x 50'“  |  Right: Hopscotch, Acrylic and Dye on canvas, 80” x 50”, 1970

Archive Contemporary
2471 Rue Centre,
Montreal, QC H3K 1J9

Archive Contemporary is a fine art gallery based in Montreal. The gallery provides a platform for established and emerging artistic talent, promoting visibility through monthly group and solo exhibitions. Archive Contemporary also hosts events centered around discourse, creative career development and community building through its artist-led educational programming.
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