"Assertionism," the new series
of paintings by Rene Robles, amounts to a manifesto for a new movement
in art. A representation of this new work can be seen at Gallery 13,451
With this new art, Robles is starting
an art movement, beginning with his students in New Jersey. It presents
a new approach to art, a more direct expression of self and emotion.
It represents mature art which has great power. He has been admired
in these pages for his consummate skill and his unending curiosity
and experimentation. From an early age, he received awards for his
painting, both in his native Philippines and in the New York, New
The maturity of the artist is manifested
by an assertion of independence. Robles refuses to imitate the Western
tradition. He symbolizes this in his work by the frequent presence
of empty canvases. In "Palaisipan," an empty canvas sits
between the eyes of the artist. In "Three Canvases", a yellow,
a white, and a blue canvas float away into space, standing up.
Each painting seems to be simmering
with energy. Often, there seems to be a vibration in the paint itself,
while other examples gain dramatic power with scale, as with the Jehovah
like enormity of the face in the sky of "Assertion III, Palaisipan."
"Assertion II, Bayani" is truly satanic in its emergent
imagery. However, it is the quality of the paint itself, which sometimes
half conceals and otherwise injects an electrifying element, as in
"Assertion", Ang Paso," where the man and flowers seem
to generate small explosions. Of course, the truly greatest explosion
of our age is pictured with tremendous power, a great red figure rising
beyond the sky, in "Assertion IV, Pinatubo," the volcano
in his native Philippines.
Upon viewing these paintings,
one can not hesitate to believe the intensity with which Rene Robles
is creating his art. This energy is generated by the acute awareness
of the artist that he is doing his best work, that all his skill and
knowledge as an artist is concentrated into the white heat of his
creation which has come into fulfillment. Thus "Assertionism"
can well be the knowledge that one is privileged to be creating the
greatest art of which he is capable. Rene Robles is producing that
kind of art today.