S T E P H . R O B E R T S
I choose to paint images of divers in an exploration of the themes of control, surrender, struggle, and destiny. By freezing the action of human figures caught tumbling in space, I attempt to address modern man's existential concerns for meaning and order. In much the same way as a diver works with and against gravity in order to achieve artful grace and precision, the figures in my paintings become metaphors for the intersection of the human and the divine. I find that out of this tension, suspended moments of beauty and grace are revealed.
These recent diver paintings continue to explore the dichotomy of free will and destiny. Even in their precise and controlled movements, the divers themselves strain against pervasive natural forces. Despite the engagement of muscle and speed, the figure is always falling through space. This relationship speaks to the assertion of human will in the context of circumstances beyond one's control.
I suspend the motion of the figure in an ambiguous space which more readily allows a metaphoric reading. In some of the compositions, the handling of the paint hints at a substantive presence that fluctuates from receding in the distance to more abstract smudging and drips of color that push against and around the figure. In my manipulation of oil paint, I am heavily influenced by the traditional techniques of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. But I also incorporate a contemporary flavor in color usage, in the play of flat versus deep space, and in the emphasis on the tactile surface of the painting.