Robert Otto Epstein | This is Heavy
January 3 - February 3, 2019
High Noon is proud to present Robert Otto Epstein’s solo debut, This is Heavy. Epstein’s work reads as the visual equivalent of an acid trip uploaded to an old school desktop computer via a floppy disk. The methodical and repetitive patterns are obsessively crafted, unnecessarily analog, and entirely lo-tech--- each work begins in Photoshop, of which he admits to knowing only five techniques. The works on paper, panel, and now concrete sculpture are gridded out by hand and then filled in using methods of both chance and choice. This is Heavy is a tongue-in-cheek phrase chosen not only to express the literal weight of Epstein’s concrete sculptures, but also poking fun at the esoteric institutions of high art. Although Epstein has found influence from the deconstructionist school of philosophy in the writings of Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Michel Foucalt, he is considering that art can be accessible in many forms and does so through the combination of textile pattern, 8-bit pixelated graphics, drawing and painting, and sculptural silhouettes referencing vessels from various eras.
For Epstein, sculpture has presented a new dimensionality of seeing the forest through the trees. Every answer is a quesition, and nothing is stable--- there is no certainty when every-thing is made up of more and more things. Particularly in the age of the internet and quickly advancing technology, imagery manipulation of all kinds is readily accessible, fostering an innate skepticism to accept things at face value. The theory of deconstructionism has been a way of questioning formal devices and social institutions, and in terms of design, fragmented forms with ambiguous futuristic overtones. In the context of Epstein’s work, it is not only a network of the kaleidoscopic patterns composed of the individual squares, but the facetious rebellion of his take on institutionalized art theory and criticism in the post-post modern world, engaging his art historical and philosophical knowledge in an unhindered way.
Sculpture is also a natural extension of the original 2-D patterned work on paper. He found inspiration through nostalgic 80’s sweaters and knitting patterns and from the beginning, the patterned shapes struck him as vessel-like. Concrete forms resembling vessels (a Roman vase, a mid-century perfume bottle) began to take shape, progressing from knitting to the intrinsic nebulous nature of the forms. The drawings are a way to write structure through coded language, building blocks for the larger pattern or system, and through the tension between the indeterminate relationships and meanings of the shapes, narrative is formed. The creation of the pattern is as significant as the pattern itself; the forms are self-perpetuating, and the symbols “keep the clock going.” Looking into the internal clockwork, a repetitious pattern develops a larger organism, like a thread on a loom, the pattern holding together the object as a whole. The patterns suggest a sense of hieroglyphic-esque code or even more so a systematic ledger, vaguely historical, but time and origin are removed within the mix--- the findings from an archeological dig in the twilight zone.
Robert Otto Epstein studied philosophy and political science at the University of Pittsburgh and law at the University of Durham in the UK. He has shown widely in the US and Europe and has been featured in a number of publications, including: The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, VICE, Juxtapoz, The Wild Magazine, L Magazine The Jealous Curator, Design Sponge, The Chronogram, The New Criterion, Pattern Pulp, Little Paper Planes, Dwell Studio, Roll Magazine, Past Present Future, and The Wild Magazine. Epstein’s work is in the corporate collections of Facebook, The Big Human, and Fidelity Investments to name a few. Epstein has curated a number of exhibitions in NYC and currently lives and works just outside of New York City.
Painters' Table | Seen in New York, January 2019 by Paul Corio
The New Criterion | The Critic's Notebook by James Panero
Arte Fuse | Robert Otto Epstein: This is Heavy at High Noon Gallery by Kate Menard