©2015 Robert P Kinsell

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures” - Oscar Wilde


I paint because I believe in magic. No, not supernatural, otherworldly, unicorn-and-fairies magic … but Three Card Monte, sleight-of-hand, fool-the-eye, con-game magic. I take to heart that the root of “Art” is also the root of “Artificial”.

Illusion is at the core of my practice. Critics of mimesis aside, I strive to produce the simple delight in having flat surfaces appear to have depth, shapes to have volume, and colors to have illumination. I am interested in the contradictions inherent in representational painting. I am creating a physical object, one that exists in real space, to portray the illusion of space. I frequently employ graffiti and words drawn on the canvas and attempt to make those into the illusion of graffiti or words drawn on a surface within the painting. The constant interplay between the physical surface of the painting and the illusion of volume and space in the painting is an essential element in my creative process.

The transformation of objects from one sphere of reference to another is the alchemy of my work. Seeing a stick as a bone, a bone as a bridge, an arrangement of produce as a figural group, a wall as a sketchbook, these are my reasons for staying with that most discredited of genres, still life. I do not do this to find meaning in the literal sense but to make a visual order out of the world at hand. I let the objects surprise me as they become altered. That surprise may come out as a pun or a humorous thought, but I always respect the thought by rendering it in a dead serious manner.

The photograph, particularly the digital photograph, presents another media to express my concept of transformation. By allowing me to get out of the studio and engage with the land the photograph extends my sphere of inquiry. Then juxtaposing both drawn and printed reactions to that inquiry expands the commentary concerning illusion on which my work hinges.

Realism is commonly thought to be about truth. But it is about anything other than that. To borrow from Mr. Wilde once again, “Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.” I hope my work achieves that exalted status of being a beautiful lie.


Robert Kinsell, 2015