This is Robin Lowe’s second exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg
and it represents a stride toward the metaphoric and beyond
the more specific narrative content of the previous show in
2008. Those works took inspiration from the novel and film
On the Beach, a harrowing story of the imminent extinction
of life following a doomsday barrage of atomic bombs in the
Northern Hemisphere. It is set on the southern coast of
Australia during the months before the radioactive fallout
reached the last people alive on earth.
The final painting in that exhibition depicted an ordinary
fishing boat on the water. It was impossible to know if it
was moored or moving, occupied or not, but the context of
the show suggested a permanently empty vessel. In
hindsight, this painting was a breakthrough in Robin
Lowe’s development and gave rise to a more fluid,
imaginative and at times surrealistic series of paintings.
The paintings in Robin Lowe’s current exhibition share a
distinctive sense of place – where beach meets sea and sea
meets sky. The fishing boats and sailboats have become
mirages dematerializing into thin air. Roads wind over
dunes and jut into rocky shores, their destinations
unknown. The journey might be to Robin’s past, through
his attachment to Cape Cod, his memories of the light and
the lay of the land. It could also be that the boats are not
dissolving but materializing, and we might think of the
roads as originating at the shore, not ending there. The title
of the exhibition, Way of the Sea (or Via Maris) refers to an
ancient trade route along the Red Sea that also suggests a
feeling of timelessness.
In a nod to Courbet’s L’Origine du monde, one of Lowe’s
characteristically confrontational female figures straddles a
sailboat’s gunwale, unclothed but for the towel wrapped
around her hair, her gaze directed at the viewer, her legs
spread and her hand resting on her apparently protective
companion, a large German Shepherd.
Lowe borrowed the title for that painting, Knife in the
Water, from a tense psychosexual drama filmed by Roman
Polanski in 1962 in which a young stranger vies for the
attention of an older man’s wife during an afternoon sail.
This large work is accompanied in the exhibition by a
second nearly life-size female figure pulling a t-shirt down
over her breasts. These paintings connect the current body
of work with the most continuous aspect of Lowe’s work,
his penetrating and often discomfiting portrayals of
adolescents and children, women and men, formerly based
on family photographs, now apparently conjured into
existence by the artist himself.
This conjuring often begins in the form of works on paper
that Lowe draws constantly. A line on a page might capture
a distinctive face briefly glimpsed and remembered; then
Lowe creates individualized identities for his subjects.
They appear as singles and as couples, and sometimes
become studies for paintings. A selection of these drawings
will be included in the exhibition along with thirteen
Robin Lowe was born in 1959 in Providence, Rhode Island.
He received a masters degree from NYU in 1985 and has
had sixteen solo exhibitions since then at the A/C Project
Room, Tanya Bonakdar and Lennon, Weinberg in New
York, Victoria Miro in London, Marc Foxx in Los Angeles
and at Reflex Modern Art in Amsterdam. He received a
fellowship from the New York State Foundation for the
Arts in 2002 and is co-founder of Art Crating, one of the
most expert art services companies in New York. In 1987,
he also co-founded the A/C Project Room, which was a
favorite destination of many artists and critics and served as
a launching pad for the careers of several artists of Lowe’s