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Robin Hextrum is a contemporary oil painter who lives and works in the Denver area. She grew up in a small coastal town called Stinson Beach in Northern California where she developed a passion for the natural environment. During her undergraduate studies at USC she completed a double major in Fine Art and Neuroscience while also rowing on the Varsity Women’s Crew Team. Following this diverse experience, she studied at Laguna College of Art and Design where she received her MFA in painting. She then completed a second Master’s degree in Modern and Contemporary Art History at UC Riverside. Her paintings represent a fusion of her traditional art training with her knowledge of art history and art theory. Robin is now an Assistant Professor of Visual Art at Regis University. She has gallery representation at Abend Gallery in Colorado. Robin Hextrum has exhibited her paintings across the country and is the recipient of grants from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation and The Stobart Foundation.
My work derives inspiration from recent social, political, and environmental upheavals. The work responds to these instabilities, while also carving out new possibilities for moving forward. Drawing heavily from Dutch still life masterpieces, many works embody a contemporary version of the vanitas theme, which is a reminder of our mortality. Flowers symbolize beauty and the transience of human life within the vanitas genre. Their short lived beauty reminds us of our brief existence on this planet. These works take the extravagance of the 17th century still life to an extreme by enlarging the scale and adding bold and vibrant colors. A flood of flowers overtakes the viewer. While the original intent of vanitas works was to push viewers to a more strict and pious path, these works ask viewers to consider the mortality of our planet. They show nature growing and mutating to adapt to an ever shifting climate and environment.
Each work explores the tension between natural and constructed worlds in its own way. Many paintings contrast organic elements with geometric structures to symbolize this conflict. Plants and flowers seem to be clawing back the rigidity and structure of hard line geometry. The works also incorporate animals as subjects. The combination of animal imagery with abstract shapes and unusual colors alludes to the dire state of our natural environment and the necessity for animals to adapt to a new climate. Caught up in swirls of abstract marks and unnatural colors, nature pushes forward to combat toxic surroundings.
On a formal level, my paintings explore the dividing lines between representation and abstraction. While still privileging representation, a single work includes various degrees of resolution and construction of illusionistic space. Each painting combines traditional subject matter and technique with contemporary paint application. Delicate roses stand adjacent to cartoonish flowers and expressive marks. Crude drawings sit beside polished and rendered imagery, creating a jarring and even theatrical quality. The use of these contrasting formal elements is meant to further develop the sense of tension. Each piece builds formal and conceptual juxtapositions that will develop into new possibilities for interpretation and reflection about our place in a vulnerable ecosystem.