Join us on September 22nd at Abend Gallery's Golden Triangle location for the highly anticipated solo exhibition of Denver based artist, Robin Hextrum. This will be her fifth solo exhibition with our gallery and we can't wait to showcase her incredible talent. Don't miss out on this exciting event.
🗓️ September 22 - October 11
🥂 Opening reception: September 22, 6 - 8 PM (The artist will be in attendance.)
🎤 Artist Talk: September 22nd, starting at 7 PM
📍Location: 1261 Delaware St, Denver, CO, 80204
The title for this exhibition, Animal Kingdom, is both a reference to the taxonomic term kingdom and an allusion to a fantasy scenario where animals have taken over the world. Each work has a unique approach to presenting this world. I began to wonder, what would an elegant portrait of a bear or a lemur look like? Or, given the chance, what might a buffalo do in an art museum when confronted with a painting like American Progress that glorifies its extermination? In a sense, these works are all examples of revisionist history because they take historical human centric visual narratives and replace them with animal protagonists.
I gained inspiration for this work both from my own deep love of animals, and from my observations of our changing planet. For many years of my life, I have been some form of vegetarian or vegan. These paintings ask viewers to look at animals with a sense of dignity and respect. Several of the paintings in this series follow traditions of conventional portraiture as a tool to elevate animals. They also demonstrate a sense of anger and frustration in animals. This can be seen in paintings that show animals walking over famous sculptures or destroying iconic artworks. I also enjoyed playing with humorous and absurd narratives in these works. Though this work has a fantastical element to it, real life examples abound. We all watched with wonder and fascination how quickly nature wanted to take back spaces from us during the Covid-19 lockdown. And, as I write this statement, orcas are attacking yachts in Spain, an elk punched a hole in the tire of an obnoxious tourist in Yellowstone, and an infamous otter is stealing surf boards to catch its own waves in Santa Cruz.
I walk in the footsteps of other artists working to reimagine the role of animals. One of my favorite 19th century artists is Rosa Bonheur, who gained unprecedented fame for her accurate and powerful paintings of animals. My former graduate school mentor and advisor Peter Zokosky has a fascinating series of chimpanzee portraits, fellow Colorado artist Mai Wyn routinely describes the intentional dignity and regality she seeks in her animal portraits, and the contemporary painter Martin Wittfooth creates moving portraits of animals caught up in postapocalyptic nightmares. Each of these artists has inspired me in one way or another. I wanted to add to this ongoing conversation with my own observations. I attempted to push the notion of a regal animal portrait and ponder the visual possibilities of animals taking over prestigious palaces, galleries, and museums. In our society, we have been so afraid of anthropomorphizing animals that we have over corrected. We often fail to see animals as equally emotional and sentient beings. My hope is that viewers walk away from this exhibition thinking just a little differently about how we should regard our fellow creatures on this planet. -Robin Hextrum