By Kayleigh Bryant
Ellington Robinson is a local-born, black artist engaging with culture in a variety of ways, including black music culture and history, identity politics, cultural memory. As a painter and mixed media artist he is technically and intellectually occupied by the balance of composition, form, texture, and manipulations of structures. His canvases are as varied as his context: deconstructed, re-appropriated, unfamiliar.
Robinson’s work is currently on view in “Decenter” at the Luther Brady Gallery of George Washington University through December 20, 2013. His solo show “Supreme Magnetic” opens at Project 4 gallery on U Street on November 9, 2013.
It is a great accomplishment for any artist to show their work simultaneously in multiple shows. It’s especially joyous for the DC art scene to have one of our own showing multiple shows in our own arts district. Robinson’s current shows are not just a personal achievement for the artist, they’re a testament to the growing strength of DC as a recognized art city.
In a lot of ways Ellington Robinson’s work is a mirror onto DC. He grew up in the District surrounded by Civil Rights activists, poets, scholars, musicians, and thought-leaders. He earned his MFA locally at the University of Maryland, College Park. His pivotal moments coming-of-age and practicing art happened here. His art tells a particular story of DC, as well as the country, the world, society, and art.
His work spans the gamut of human emotion. Robinson’s record paintings are a reflection of our engagement with musicians, their role in society and history, their status as creators of art, and specifically the influences of music in black culture. His paintings of interiors are deeply charged by racial indications in black music culture, but are also deeply personal in portraying specific responses to certain musicians past and present. All together his works are spiritual, musical, racially charged, and contend with culturally-specific historical memory.
Now in “Supreme Magnetic” the artist takes a different approach to engaging in the discourse of race and memory. In exploring the human-designated physical boundaries of states and nations Robinson’s art investigates political identifiers and cultural motives in relation to racism, classism, and imperialism. Interested in the “Supreme,” Robinson contrasts the natural modes of the Earth’s designations with the exhaustive struggle of humanity’s quest for artificial dominance.
Woven into Robinson’s interest in navigation and designation is the contemplation of place versus placement.
Robinson’s work in “Supreme Magnetic” connects the viewer to a dialogue that re-thinks provinces in terms of the hidden, forgotten, or overlooked volition of the origin of such designations. These works are profoundly immersed in the complexity of cultural memory, but also actualize meanings for today.
Ellington Robinson has developed this series using substances of mixed-media previously not seen in his work before, including found broken glass and worn furniture, along with familiar elements including charred album sleeves. “Supreme Magnetic” is both a departure from Robinson’s previous work, but also comfortably familiar. He hasn’t changed his voice or perspective as an artist. Viewers will recognize his historically-charged perspective, but will find new meanings in his work.
Viewers are expected to dig, contemplate, and reflect with the dense context of “Supreme Magnetic.”
Ellington Robinson lives and works in Washington, DC. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Mixed Media at the University of Maryland, College Park in Maryland. He also has a diploma in Film Making from the New York Film Academy in Paris, France. He is a Lecturer at the Montgomery College, Takoma Park.