Robert Tarbell: This Much Is True

Claire Oliver

513 West 26th Street, New York

May 18 - June 24, 2017

Robert Tarbell’s new body of work, This Much is True, carefully balances chance and control through transformation and loss. The artist’s studio practice is driven by an engagement and development of unorthodox processes involving the indirect manipulation of variable and uncontrollable conditions and the expansion of the inherent properties of his materials. 

The artist has created two distinct bodies of work, one 2-D human portraits and one 3-D animal portraits, capture lives caught in a vulnerable moment, an idea reinforced through the impermanent nature of the chosen mediums. Tarbell’s mastery of smoke and soot captures both the subject's portrait and their vulnerable condition and emphasizes a state in between presence and absence. By manipulating the flow and capturing smoke on surfaces (linen, satin, faux leather and porcelain slabs) each portrait is an intimate depiction drawing from the psychological and emotional well that runs between the present and the imagined.