I'm an artist based in London, originally from Northern England.
My website needs updating, but in the meantime here's a bit about me and my practice.
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When I started out, my work was mostly video based, sometimes incorporating installation, and consisting largely of performance to camera pieces, involving absurd and cathartic gestures and utterances. I was heavily influenced by Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley, and other artists exploring transgression, abjection and the grotesque.
To cut a long story short, over a decade ago, I lost my way with my practice after suffering a nervous breakdown. I retreated into my sketchbook and did a lot of drawing. This led to experiments with painting and since this point, I have been slowly developing this new aspect of my practice.
I am still drawn to exploring and depicting the absurdity of the human experience. There are various concerns within my work, but a recurring theme, broadly speaking, is the historical trope of the artist as ‘mad visionary’ or ‘tortured genius’. I find myself constantly oscillating between celebrating and critiquing this cliché.
I am also preoccupied with notions of taste, and the complex set of criteria used to determine what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ taste. And how something that would be considered vulgar in almost any other situation, can be elevated within an art context - transformed from ugly to beautiful (or at least imbued with a level of sophistication). I am also interested in the role the art market plays in this process - turning shit into gold.
Robin Close was born in Carlisle in 1978, he lives and works in London. He studied Art Foundation in Hull, before moving to Sheffield to complete a BA (Hons) Fine Art (Time Based Art) degree (First Class). He has shown and performed his work at various galleries and other venues across the UK, including Site Gallery (Sheffield), S1 Artspace (Sheffield) Bloc Projects (Sheffield), CCA (Glasgow), Side Cinema (Newcastle), Primary (Nottingham), Leeds Met Gallery (Leeds), King Street Arts (Belfast), Candid Arts Trust (London), and The Spitz (London). Robin’s work has also been shown internationally, including at Consortium (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Colarte Gallery (Santander, Spain), and at the Festival International du Premier Film (Annonay, France).
In 2006, he was awarded a three month residency with Yorkshire Art Space Society, at Persistence Works, to carry out a project investigating the relationship between art and mental health, with an accompanying essay written by the critic JJ Charlesworth. Robin was invited to present a follow up exhibition at Persistence Works (Sheffield) in 2007, with another commissioned text by JJ Charlesworth.
In 2006-07, Robin was part of a collaborative curatorial project, with Kate Taylor (Senior Film Programmer for BFI London Film Festival) and Ilana Mitchell (Artistic Director of Wunderbar, Newcastle). This was part of Digital North, a new media art initiative, which culminated in a programme of exhibitions and events at Site Gallery (Sheffield), Cornerhouse (now part of HOME, Manchester) and Star and Shadow Cinema (Newcastle), which featured work by John Bock, Guy Sherwin and Ben Rivers, among others.
Other curatorial projects include Arts Council England funded Just For Fun, a live art event at a Chinese karaoke restaurant in Sheffield in 2006, co-curated with WebsterGotts, featuring performances by Juneau Projects, Alison J Carr, Wendy Houstoun, and Forced Entertainment, among others.
Robin was an active member of Bloc Projects, Sheffield, between 2009 and 2012, contributing to programming meetings and curating the inaugural Bloc Members Show in 2010. His most recent post was at Lungley Gallery in Dalston, London, where he worked between 2018 and 2020.
He had a solo exhibition of paintings at Pram Shed Gallery in Walthamstow, London, as part of the E17 Art Trail in July 2021. He is currently working on an ongoing collaborative drawing project with artists Simon Le Ruez and Maud Haya-Baviera.