An expression of the contemporary experience, these paintings tell the stories of ordinary people from all walks of life. My way of working is a combination of digital technology, photography, and most importantly, time intensive and complex oil painting techniques grounded in atelier traditions. I begin with photography of my subject, and use the projection of the picture as a basis for the layered painting process on linen, drawing and recomposing the lines, combining turpentine and oil, blocking in the base to achieve value and color. As I go, I add oil to my medium to achieve a wet on wet process, refining with highlights and darkness. This process and construction of a painterly image can take months and as such responds to the historic legacy of portraiture, while expressing a distinctly contemporary experience of the world.
While my process is undeniably ensconced in the ways of academic painting, my subjects are by no means the traditional type; rather I search for people who have a certain emotional clarity. They might meet your glance head on, while still others just have a remarkable beauty that seems somehow unusual. The composition of each portrait is achieved by finding that place between the humorous and poignant, a kind of intimacy that goes beyond my relationship with the model. A sense of seeing and ardor extends to the viewer and makes a memorable picture. These sensations are an important part of my practice. For example, intimacy and a certain tenderness is also at the core of my Oyster still life series. These studies of the inner beauty of such succulent creatures express a certain robust appreciation of the tactile, the feminine and as such my identity as a woman. This is further reflected in my nude works, and I would ask my viewers to consider that I am a woman painting nude women, and my work reflects both the challenge and richness of this experience. It seems that they emerge from my pictures alternately bold and vulnerable and yet always beautiful even in the most unconventional ways. This intricacy is meant to reflect the diverse nature of the human experience. Such inclusiveness and complexity of intention connects my work to the current of realist work today, a new genre that simultaneously embraces studio painting and engages in questions of identity, race, beauty, and gender.
American painter and photographer Nadine Robbins (b. 1966) grew up in the South of France and London, the Carolinas and the Northeast. Under the tutelage of her artist mother, Robbins learned of the great masters, and with her father, the wonders of the natural world on the shores of the American coast. Nadine’s contemporary style is distinguished by a masterly command of academic painting techniques paired with an irreverence for rules, gender and beauty.
Robbins is widely recognized for her large-scale painting series Eight Portrait Pieces, recently featured at the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London, 2010-11. In all of Robbin’s figural works, the dialogue between painter and subject allows an evocation of complex emotion; often turning upside down the historical tradition of gaze, viewer and the subject. As well, her succulent paintings of American oysters demonstrate the artist’s unique sensibility and way of blending traditional techniques and meticulousness with a reconfigured gaze incorporating an intimate magnification in the style of Georgia O’Keefe.
Nadine’s masterful use of luscious jewel toned paint and high fidelity realism ties the artist to the late twentieth century and contemporary traditions of hyper-realism, photo-realism, and super-realism. Like Chuck Close, Nadine uses a similar photographic and painterly process to produce dynamic contemporary portraits. The artist’s montage-like use of atelier technique and way of working adds to the oeuvre a studied complexity that is enticing and refined.
In addition to her solo show at Brill Gallery, Massachusetts, 2009, Nadine was recently selected for the special issue of “Formation” produced by Poets & Artists Magazine show at Bernaducci Meisel, New York, January 2017. Her recent international exhibitions include Museo de Arte Moderno de Barcelona, Spain 2016, Sala Bantierra de Zaragoza, Spain, 2016, Sirona Fine Art, South Florida in both 2015-16, Women Painting Women, RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, 2016-2017; and the Robert Lange Gallery in Charleston. Nadine’s work may be found in several important private collections, most notably the Howard A. & Judith Tullman Collection, Chicago. In 2015, the artist was selected for the special feature Poets and Artists, 50 Memorable Painters. With multiple upcoming projects and exhibitions including her first solo exhibition in New York City in the fall of 2018, Nadine continues to attract the attention of collectors, curators, dealers, and gallery owners around the world.
©2017 Rosa JH Berland