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Robert Hawkins at Gracie Mansion
 
     
 
The Green Children
1999
 
Dawn Repo
1999
 
One can always expect the unexpected from Robert Hawkins, a New York artist who follows a unique path, oblivious, or rather impervious, to the various trends that over the years have engulfed the less talented of his contemporaries. Hawkins's diverse body of work includes sculptures, drawings and paintings on found objects, and also paintings on conventional materials like the canvases in this show. The thread that holds his work together is a consistently wild and vivid imagination.

In this exhibition, titled "Heroes of the Unexplained," he concentrates on portraits. The 16 framed canvases on view, each about 24 by 39 inches, constitute a truly bizarre rogue's gallery. For Hawkins, every picture tells a story and toward this end, each portrait is accompanied by a text revealing the subject's identity. Most of the figures are related to ghost stories and the supernatural, themes that have preoccupied Hawkins for some time.

The painting of a pair of doe-eyed children with green faces in The Green Children, for example, is based on a tale of two kids in 12th-century England who were discovered by harvesters. The brother and sister duo lived alone in the fields and ate only green beans, hence the color of their skin. One of the most outstanding works on view, Dawn Repo, shows an apparition appearing in the window of a microwave oven, the ghost, it seems, of a flight engineer killed in a plane crash.

Among other subjects is William Neff, a performer who disappeared in the middle of his magic act. Also on hand are several psychics, including Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce and Dionne Warwick, who Hawkins describes as the former pop singer who pioneered psychic phone scams.

Robert Hawkins, "Heroes of the Unexplained," Feb. 2-26, 2000, at Gracie Mansion, 54 Saint Marks Place, New York, N.Y.10003.

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