Rob Sample’s latest examples of emotional countenance emerge from dark complex surfaces, painted in oils on large panels, and until the end of September hang on the equally dark walls of The blackShed Gallery: Robertsbridge.
Eight of Sample’s impressive works strive for attention in the gallery’s main exhibition space, each face exhibits an anguish or hopelessness that conveys a narrative to be slowly unravelled by the viewer.
Two bodies of work - one an extension of the other - converge to form a show that is simultaneously black and shockingly vibrant. The earlier works contain sharp angular lines that dissect the backgrounds and introduce lurid colours that fight for dominance over the figurative foreground.
Intertwined with these very precise directorial shapes are expressionistic experiments that contribute to the air of battle in the works; brush strokes and blocks, drips and runs all demand the eye.
Multifaceted applications of paint and medium, which mix in vast pools on the panels, appear as spontaneous yet well-rehearsed methods; turning the work to displace drips in varying directions, or creating large gestural brush-mark accents.
They add prompts to the reading of this story where history is relayed in layers of the pursuit of mastering techniques. It is evident in the new shimmering tonal pieces that the artist has achieved this mastery, by losing colour and harsh line Sample has emphasised the raw emotional undertones that define his preoccupation.
The faces in Disembarked, Disclimaxes and Dispondent (all 2014) – especially detailed in the eyes, nose, and forehead- are harrowing and unashamedly sorrowful, the eyes are unfocused, recessed orbs that reflect the inevitability of human mortality and the expressive drawn out flesh resides in a stage of translucent emergence.
Painted in short singular bush strokes, evocative of early impressionist ideals, light and shadow remain predominant to render the flesh tangible; juxtaposed with the fluid motions of an expressionistic layering that sits beneath and about them.
Each addition or subtraction of paint leaves a trace on the work that contributes to the complicated tactile surfaces, each element deserving of the viewers appreciative scrutiny.
Once again background and subject blur into a singular emotive response that encapsulate Rob Sample’s concern with the overlooked extremes of humanity.
A Return To Order runs like a roll call of the down and out bodies of a despairing lost society, and although it’s rude to stare the temptation is irresistible.
For further information, www.theblackshedgallery.org.uk
Contact the gallery on 01580 881247
the blackShed gallery Russet Farm, Robertsbridge TN32 5NG