This summer, the Taft
introduces Keystone Contemporary, a new exhibition that features work by an emerging contemporary artist. This series debuts with works from Cincinnati native Emil Robinson, whose paintings function as contemplations on daily life. This series carries on the tradition of former residents of the Taft home who championed local working artists.
The four paintings in the exhibition will be seen for the first time in the Tafts Keystone Gallery, in the historic house. Robinson will discuss his work on Sunday, August 2, at 1 p.m., with a reception to follow.
In Robinsons work, mundane objects and private moments take on new meaning and express profound, quiet beauty. For this artist, the methodical process of painting itself is a meditation that is reenacted when viewers experience the finished image.
The Taft has a long history of supporting emerging artists, says Tamera Lenz Muente, curator of the Keystone Contemporary series, and we have launched this series to continue that tradition. Former residents of the historic house helped many artists at the beginning of their careers. Nicholas Longworth commissioned Robert S. Duncanson to produce his first major commission, the suite of landscape murals in the foyer. And the Tafts themselves purchased a few paintings from Cincinnati artists Frank Duveneck and Henry Farny, and also invited young artists to their home to study their collection.
In his new body of work, Robinson has placed meticulously rendered figures against geometric backgrounds. This juxtaposition of realism versus pure pattern reveals the magic of paintingwe see what appear to be volumetric forms but are simultaneously reminded that a painting is a two-dimensional surface.
By working within, and subverting, the traditional genre of portraiture, Robinson also lends a new perspective on portraits in the Taft collection, such as 17th-century Dutch painter Frans Hals pendant portraits of a man and his wife.
Robinson graduated with a master of fine arts degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2006 and a bachelor of arts from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in 2003. In 2007, he received a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, a Canadian organization that supports emerging representational artists from around the world. The grant allowed him to spend six months painting in London. Robinson paints daily in his East Walnut Hills studio and teaches figure drawing and painting at the University of Cincinnati and at Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center. His work is represented regionally, nationally, and internationally at Heike Pickett Gallery, Versailles, Kentucky; Gallery Henoch, New York; and Waterhouse & Dodd Contemporary, London, England.