Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery

Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery
Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery

Currently on exhibition at the Owen James Gallery is a unique “collaboration” between Charles Bukowski and the painter Walter Robinson. Working with Bukowski’s poem “The Bluebird,” Robinson has crafted a series of paintings that reflects a debauchery more and more prolific in our social network feeds.

Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery
Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery

From the gallery:

Since the early 1980s Walter Robinson has been known for his creamy, gestural appropriations of pulp fiction and romance novel covers. From this retro illustrative starting point he has, over the years, gone on to critique the synthetic nature of American mass-market media through humorous images based largely on advertisements. From normcore fashion catalogs to fast food, Robinson has depicted the blandness of our dreams and shallowness of our desires by turning a mirror upon the ways we are told to think our lives should be lived.

Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery
Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery

For me, the exciting aspect of this collection of work is less about the sex, drugs, and rock n roll subject matter and more about the ubiquitous brands and branding of the alcohol and tobacco in our lives. These paintings of booze bottles, with logos obfuscated, are immediately recognizable and yet speak something more like simulacrum than advertisements.

In these vague depictions, paired with the sexually saturated “selfie” paintings, we can find a culture of excess and addiction; we can see the many ways in which we each keep our Bluebird at bay.

Excerpted from “Bluebird”:

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke

Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery
Walter Robinson at Owen James Gallery

About Andy Smith

A.P. Smith is a writer, photographer, and record collector living in Greenpoint with his dog, Luigi.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *