Sunday, September 30, 2018

Robert Yarber "Return of the Repressed" at Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, California


"Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires."
William Shakespear

The city at night can be a terrifying place. When one wonders the city in the evening, temptations and darkness can pervade and draw the individual into a nightmare world. In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, painters both in the United States and in Europe began to address the anxiety and zeitgeist of the current era by applying early 20th century expressionist styles and approaches. Bold brush strokes and color with an emphasis on the subjective and emotional response to world around was key in this re-emergence of expressionism what was then and now referred to as Neo-Expressionism. Robert Yarber's solo show "Return of the Repressed" at Nicodim Gallery marks a return to Los Angeles in more than 20 years and with his new body work brings a new examination and appreciation of Neo-Expressionism. Yarber is a master at exploring the night both as a metaphor and as a real place where darkness challenges the survival of the soul. 

Yarber's paintings are dark not only in their subject matter, they are dark in their composition and color. Night is a pervasive theme in Yarber's oeuvre. Neon colors with a dark background accentuates the figures presence. From laying paralyzed in a hotel room, to a seance in a garden, the nighttime landscapes plays a role in the scene that is being revealed to the viewer. In some of the works, a light is seen in the horizon and it is not clear whether this is dawn or the sunset. The figures are caught in a limbo where the night is beginning or where the end maybe near. In these landscapes, people float in the air of night. This image is an important aspect of Yarber's work.

With the exception of a few works, there is a persistent image that occupies the canvases of Robert Yarber. The image is the floating couple. The floating couple maybe a direct reference to the doomed couple found in the second circle of hell in Dante's Inferno; the lovers Francesca and Paolo. In the Inferno, Dante enters the second circle of hell where those condemned for lust are sent after death. There, he encounters Francesca and Paolo locked in an eternal embrace in second circle of hell. Francesca and Paolo were murdered by Francesca's husband after discovering their adulterous affair. It is their lust for each other that condemned them for all eternity. It is in this embrace that Dante speaks to Francesca, and she tells Dante the following:


Love, which in gentlest hearts will soonest bloom
seized my lover with passion for that sweet body
from which I was torn unshriven to my doom.
Love, which permits no loved one not to love,
took me so strongly with delight in him
that we are one in Hell, as we were above.
Love led us to one death. In the depths of Hell
Caïna waits for him who took our lives."
This was the piteous tale they stopped to tell.

Dante, Inferno, Canto V, lines 100–108, Ciardi translation.


Taking a cue from magical realism, the floating couple in Yarber's paintings are set in a dark and neon cityscape. The city is the place where one can be condemned to one's lusts and passions. The figures in Yarber's paintings are defying gravity. It is possible that the floating man and woman  in Yarber's paintings are to forever float above the city in the same eternal passions that condemned Paolo and Francesca. Yarber wants the viewer to be a witness to lust, power, magic, and everything that can be found in a fallen world. Robert Yarber is our tour guide in this dark and neon world.

Truly great artists act as tour guides and take the viewer to places that others dare not travel. Robert Yarber"s "Return of the Repressed" is an excellent show. Yarber is a master at conveying a subjective landscape where magic, passion, sin, and condemnation meet. The neon world contained within these paintings are tableaus of drama in which the characters are engaged in a the debauchery that a city is fertile ground. 

On view until October 20, 2018

Nicodim Gallery Los Angeles
571 S Anderson Street Ste 2
Los Angeles, CA 90033
323.262.0260

info@nicodimgallery.com
nicodimgallery.com
Gallery Hours
Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm



Robert Yarber
Vista, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 96 in
​182 x 244 cm

Robert Yarber
Error's Triumph, 2018
oil on canvas
72 x 132 in.
182.75 x 335.25 cm.

Robert Yarber
Layover, 1987
oil on canvas
72 x 120 in.
182.88 x 304.80 cm.

Robert Yarber
Contemplation of the Absolute, 1993
oil on canvas
68 x 96 in.
172.72 x 243.84 cm.

Robert Yarber
Gas and Limited Oxygen, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 132 in.
182 x 335 cm.

Robert Yarber
Seance with False Medium Trumpet Call from the Beyond, 1993
acrylic on canvas
68 x 96 in.
172 x 243 cm.


Robert Yarber
Error's Triumph (detail), 2018
oil on canvas
72 x 132 in.
182.75 x 335.25 cm.

Robert Yarber
Error's Conquest, 1987
oil on canvas
71 x 129.50 in.
180.34 x 328.93 cm.

Robert Yarber
Theater, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 132 in
182 x 335 cm
Robert Yarber
Crowds and Power, 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 132 in.
​182 x 335 cm.

Robert Yarber
Crowds and Power (detail), 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 132 in.
​182 x 335 cm.

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Robert Yarber "Return of the Repressed" at Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, California

"Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires." William Shakespear The city at night can be a terrifyin...