Sunday’s closing of Robyn Alatorre’s first solo show A Clandestine History of Art at the Neutra Gallery included an artist’s talk which DiversionsLA led.
Some highlights: Robyn calls her work “feminist, subversive, and obsessed with color.”
Alatorre remarks that a critique of her work included commentary that her art looked as if it were done by three different artists. We discussed the themes that carry through work that reflects classical art with a modern/surrealist twist, pieces such as her “Nipple” series that take on a single element and magnify it, and her smaller, ironic works that play with images such as illustrations from children’s literature, and subvert them.
“In each work, I’m looking at color, at light, at the idea that we are all sexual creatures, that’s who we are. I’m looking at the objectification of women, the unnecessary sexualization of the breast, of girls. I’m taking a conventional idea and making it different,” she says.
Other discussion topics included how Alatorre began her path of turning the traditional inside out. “I’ve always done that. I’m not going to paint dogs and horses. I take images and look at them in unexpected ways.”
And how does she create the true, glowing sense of light in her works, even in her darkest palettes or subject matters? “I work in oil, and I layer, and I layer, and I layer. Any artist who works in oil will tell you that it’s difficult to stop painting. That continuation helps to build depths, light beneath darkness.”
We also discussed the fact that her “Nipple” series could, if not so named, look as if it were depicting the cosmos, worm holes, universes. “It’s interesting you say that,” she remarked. “I was originally going to title the pieces ‘Constellations.'” Alatorre looks at the nipple as what sustains life, succors it, creates, in a way, the ability to sustain life.
Alatorre’s vibrant, political, and brilliantly twisted works are not to be missed. The Redondo Beach-based artist will be exhibiting her epic revisions of traditional art and helping to support the universe one painting at a time in new LA-area exhibitions later this year. Look for her.
- Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke