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, designer, and photographer Nadine Robbins’ contemporary style is distinguished by a masterly command of academic painting techniques, and an irreverence for rules and gendered ideas of beauty. Today, the artist has earned great admiration for her alluring nudes, portraits, and the lush precision of erotic still lives of oysters.
Robbins grew up in France and the United States. Her interest in the fine arts began in childhood. Under the tutelage of her artist mother Robbins learned of the great masters, and with her father, about the wonders of the natural world on the shores of the American coast. In addition to these early visual experiences, Robbins’ formal experience includes extensive work as a professional photographer, creative director, and designer. As well, the artist also holds her BFA from SUNY, New Paltz, New York.
Robbins is widely recognized in particular for her large scale painting series Eight Portrait Peaces, two of which were selected for exhibition at the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London, in 2010 and 2011. In all of Robbin’s figural works, the dialogue between painter and subject allows an evocation of complex emotion and sexuality, often turning upside down the historical tradition of gaze, viewer and the subject. Moreover, the succulent studies of American oysters demonstrate the artist’s unique sensibility and way of blending traditional techniques and meticulousness with a reconfigured gaze incorporating intimate magnification in the style of Georgia O’Keefe.
Robbins’ admixture of opulent paint and high fidelity detail tie the artist to the late twentieth century and contemporary traditions of hyper-realism, photo-realism, and super-realism. Her practice is also in some ways connected to the technical approaches of this movement, namely Chuck Close who used a similar photography and painterly process to produce dynamic contemporary portraits. In many ways, Robbins’ montage like use of atelier technique and process in fact reflects the overall character of her work, a studied complexity that seems at once enticing and refined.
Robbin’s award winning portraiture is featured in various publications and online media such as Artsy, Fine Art Connoisseur, American Art Collector and the Huffington Post, as well as leading exhibits of contemporary figurative and realist fine art. In addition to the premiere solo show at the Brill Gallery, North Adams, MA, 2009, recent select group exhibitions include Sirona Fine Art, Hallandale, Florida, 2015-16, Sala Bantierra de Zaragoza, Spain, 2016, Museo Meam de Barcelona, Spain, 2016, Women Painting Women, RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, Robert Lange Gallery in Charleston and Art Undressed, The Nude Art Exhibition, Miami, 2014. The artist’s work can be found in international private collections, most notably the Howard A. & Judith Tullman Collection, Chicago. In 2015, Robbins was selected for the special feature Poets and Artists, 50 Memorable Painters. Robbins will be included in the upcoming exhibition Formation, presented in conjunction with a special issue of Poets & Artists Magazine, at Bernaducci Meisel, New York City, opening on January 12, 2017.