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A still life is defined as a realistic study of mostly inanimate commonplace objects which are either natural or man-made. Numerous artists throughout history defined and redefined this notion. Young American artist Robert Minervini continues their legacy by challenging the academic ways of thinking about art and still life.
Loaded with elements that establish a dialogue between the classic and the contemporary, Robert plays with the aesthetic of a composition of a classic still life by adding the background cities full of buildings and long roads without any traffic, and by separating the elements of a still life with full or segmented glass. The isolated block formations invite the viewer to be a part of the universe that Minervini captures in each of his pieces.
“I’ve gone through many various bodies of work but I think the unifying theme has been looking at the world around us, and trying to reinterpret our relationship to our surroundings both through environments and objects.”
Robert has been fascinated with arts for most of his life. Whether it was his interest in the Renaissance or Baroque paintings, or his involvement with mural painting, creativity has entered all areas of his life and became all-consuming, setting Robert on the path of an artist. Experimenting with media and materials, from painting to ceramics, he now mostly works with acrylic on panel and paper exploring the medium’s possibilities and limitations.
“My paintings often read very crisp and almost digital but up close the evidence of the hand is evident and also important to the way I want the work to be read by the viewer.”
Drawing inspiration from his environment and Californian landscapes, Robert starts the work by creating a digital sketch using either his or found online images. He then transfers the idea onto a panel with the use of his tools: acrylic paint, brushes, tape, and stencils. His favorite tool – a small X-Acto blade – plays the most important part. As Robert says: “The blade has become almost more important than a brush for me as its responsible for how I lay down paint just as much.”
Observing Minervini’s work can sometimes feel like being a fish in a tank. The viewer enters the “interior” of the painting captured in great detail – a series of elements that integrate nature through ficuses and cacti and invite to get lost among them to discover details reinforcing the symbolic character of each of the elements that usually integrate a piece of still life. Reevaluating one’s understanding of the world becomes the main goal of the artist’s work.
The trompe-l’œi effect takes on a new dimension in Robert’s art. Using the stencil technique with a palette of contrasting colors that remind the reflective neon lights, Minervini’s pieces immerse the viewer in a futuristic present, which seems to be designed by a digital entelechy that, despite the distance, suggests respect to human warmth, and challenges the reality and quality of interpersonal interactions.
Influenced by a life plagued by art, from visits to the major museums to his academic studies, Robert Minervini feels a need to cultivate the artistic discourse that seems to be diluted between the interconnectivity of the Internet and the late stage of capitalism, which forces a human being to reflect less and consume more.