While at first glance Virginia artists Robin Braun and Rob Browning seem drawn to different subjects, techniques and philosophies, their unexpected collaboration has surprised and delighted them both.
Artist’s Statement, Robin Braun:
The ocean is never far from my thoughts and is constantly in my dreams. It can be ruthless and it can be supremely calm. I like to paint all of the moods of the sea. Having grown up near the water, I feel that it is an inherent part of my consciousness.
My paintings are about both the sublime and the more violent aspect of nature. I portray both the storm and the tranquility; the eye-dead calm of the hurricane; the breathless approach of a thunderstorm in the distance. A few years ago, while watching an approaching storm, I saw several distinct emerald green, slow flashes of light at different points throughout the approaching storm. I was so engrossed by this phenomena, that I forgot about the storm until it was everywhere around me.
It was violent, loud, terrifying and unbelievably gorgeous at the same time. I hope that my paintings can convey some of the violence and stillness, beauty and spectacle, of both the storms and the calm.
Artist’s statement, Rob Browning:
My paintings are of scenes that I glimpse during my day, most often while driving or walking or occasionally in dreams that I view as a fragment of an interesting narrative. Some are of scenes which I find to be anxiety-provoking, humorous, beautiful or grotesque.
While my artwork is meant to faithfully document a scene, in painting one, I will often caricature, delete or alter the scale of elements of it if I feel that doing so makes the painting better communicate what I’ve seen.
Eight years ago Braun and Browning worked from studios across the hall from each other at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA. When the center proposed a show of collaborative work, they decided to give it a try. The result of their mutual efforts — Untitled — was featured in McGuffey’s “Layers” show in August 2005.
“I wanted to paint a storm and he a pink house,” says Braun. “I started with the background and waves. I did my thing and he did his. My palette is much more muted than Rob’s. He is not afraid to use color. I admire his skill and ingenuity so much. It was really effortless to work with him and made me wonder if maybe there could be other collaborations that would be interesting. It was a dream. It was so much fun.”
Browning agrees. “I liked Robin’s work. It was very stylized version of what she sees. I especially like her visually dark pieces. I don’t see them as psychologically dark. I’ve been inspired by them to paint a few dark pieces. When Robin and I were working on the collaborative piece, the work that she did on it inspired or guided the work that I did on it. We generally discussed its direction, the dramatic background and having a house in the picture. We passed the canvas back and forth. I don’t think it affected the way I paint. I was a bit apprehensive about collaborating and it could have been torture if you didn’t like the other’s work, but it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would and wouldn’t mind doing it again.”
Braun’s paintings are on view at Chroma Projects, Charlottesville, and this September will appear at the Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, VA.
Browning is represented by Nichols Gallery in Barboursville, VA. He will be included in a summer show at Gallery 7, Charlottesville, and a fall show at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
–Elizabeth Howard, art editorFollow us!
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