Robert Braune, The Lift
August 8, 2012
Robert Braune recently hit the scene in Des Moines with his first solo showing at The Lift. I had the opportunity to interview the artist about process, inspiration, and his relationship with art history. Below is an account of our interview interspersed with images of Robert’s work.
In looking at your work it seems that you are dwelling in the in between land of portraiture and abstraction, why do you paint people in the way that you do?
” There is this desire that I have, to want to paint people the way that they are seen. The way that I see them. But if I am honest with myself, I find that I lack a talent that is needed to achieve such an image. So while still attempting to do so, part way through I am reminded of the difficulty that is involved with this task. So I find this medium ground where I can still portray human without it being pure representational. They become these monster like humans, but retain human qualities. Thus becoming less monstrous and more humanly relatable. Or I would like to think so. I’m not other people so I cannot speak for them.
More so, I am ultimately trying to create memorable images. Ones that people will one day want to put in some college students art history book. So, the images I paint, I try to make them as representative of my work and the way that I plan to continue to work. “
Talk about the materials that you have used and the way that you have constructed your surfaces for this show. What is important to you about using paint?
” Painting is the medium that I chose for art because of it’s history as art. Painting is just a form of drawing. I’m not exactly sure of the difference between the two. Just different names for the same thing I guess. Paint is just a specific drawing material. But painting and drawing have existed since the beginning of man. From cave drawings to street art. It’s come full circle at this point.
With this show there is a mix of old and new. Anything that is on canvas is old. Four or five years old to be exact. Those pieces to me, although old felt to be representational of where I came from but also seem to embody what I am currently doing. The newer pieces are all done on panels of wood.
I choose to use wood to paint on mainly because of the costs when compared to buying stretchers and canvas. Also, the prep time is greatly reduced when dealing with wood. I can have it cut down to the size I need before I even pay for it, take it home and paint right away.
The thing that I strive to achieve with these new paintings is a sense of unfinished. There is a level of incomplete that has a very finished look. But there is a fine line between something being completely unfinished by being over worked, and something that is just under worked. Trying to find that in between is tricky. It takes a lot of starting and stopping. Sometimes the decision comes a month after you stopped working on a piece with the intentions of going back into it. I’ll put a piece back on the easel and have paint on the pallet, but after 5 minutes of staring it’s clear that there is no more that can be done. “
There are many references in your work to iconic artists such as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso, why do you reference these figures, and how does that feed your creative process?
” For the most part the references are an homage to other great artists that I look up to. At the same time, it has become this competition between myself and these greats. Who the hell are these guys? Dead, that’s for starters. So it should seem that I have the upper hand in this competition. That would be wrong considering their place in history and my place in anonymity. Regardless of our living status, I feel that this competition is a healthy drive for my work. I set my standards high, so I feel like the work that I produce has the potential to be important. “
We talked a little bit about abstraction versus realism and the realm in between the two the other night…Would you have any comments about where your work fits in a larger context?
“ I would say my work is abstracted realism. Often I paint from something that is real but it becomes abstracted through the quality of my work. By definition I would be abstract. But abstract is an abstracted word. It’s been simplified to the point that it’s to easily applied to things. For example, I have a plain white coffee mug. You have a coffee mug in the shape of Bart Simpsons head. Is the Bart Simpson coffee mug an abstract coffee mug? I’m not a fan of putting things in to categories or genres. Honestly, when people ask me what I paint, I usually just say still lifes and portraits. Then I just show them some photos of work. People can make up their own minds on what my paintings are. “
Keep your eyes open for more showings of Robert’s work in the coming months. Also you may contact the artist here .