Robert Bowen’s art takes us into worlds of pop-surrealistic imagery that seems to fit into a void at the end of a non-sequitur universe. Awash with color, bursting with pointedness, and rampaging with eloquent symbolism, the works grab the viewer, and yank them right in. Bowen been working hard to refine his work, and the paintings in “Candy Coated” – his new show at LOPO Gallery in SF – are nothing short of spectacular. The paintings burst with vampire bunnies, crucified cartoons, and mental images from deep within the artist’s brain. It’s quite a journey to say the least.
Recently we had a chance to stop by Bowen’s studio for a quick visit where the artist was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…
1). Can you tell us a bit of your personal art history?
As a little kid I always either had my face buried in a coloring book or I was crudely trying to recreate my favorite cartoon characters (I guess its not all that different from today). In high school I got heavily into graffiti, that remained my main artistic outlet for quite a few years until I decided to waste money on art school. I got frustrated with the painting program, became a sculpture major and decided to teach myself to paint, and that is a never ending process. The End.
2). You’ve developed a surrealistic style that is very identifiable as your own, can you tell us a bit about your aesthetic?
I enjoy creating things that are both very real but also have an element of cartoonishness (I totally just made that word up). I also love being expressive with big swaths of color and splattering and dripping paint. I guess when you combine everything, what you end up with is my style.
3). How has your work grown and developed over the past year?
You know, I never really notice the develpement or growth in my paintings. I just keep working and the change is tangible from one piece to the next. I have to really step back to notice the change, I dont see it while its taking place. That being said, now that I look at it I think the work has gotten a little tighter and sharper.
4). How has your graffiti background influenced the work you produce today?
I think the bright colors I use are a definite result of it. I like bold eye catching elements and accents on things. I’m not afraid of color and I want things to be noticed. The way I choose to create my iconography is also part of that with characters that stand out and command your attention. I definitely tore that page out of the graffiti book.
5). What’s next for Robert Bowen?
To continue to bombard you with whatever I think is funny, beautiful, disturbing and fluffy. But Bigger and better.
– Interview and photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian
For more on the art of Robert Bowen visit: http://robertbowenart.com/
For more on the “Candy Coated at LOPO Gallery visit: http://lopogallery.com/shows/?t=shows&a=candy-coated