Robert W. Firestone|
Creative, inquisitive, intelligent, a true independent spirit, R.W. Firestone brings to his art the same qualities that have made him a leading author and theoretician in psychological research and a world-class sailor. His strong sense of design, color and composition combined with his unique understanding of human nature has allowed him to create a large and eclectic body of work of unusual depth and sensitivity.
R.W. Firestone was born in Brooklyn in 1930, the son of a doctor and a fashion designer. His mother's career in fashion was an early important, influence on his developing artistic sensibilities. Firestone was raised in the rich melting pot of New York's metropolitan area but his home in Brooklyn was near the ocean. The sound of the freighter's foghorns late at night kindled a lifelong love of the sea and a search for adventure and personal development. The themes of the city and the sea, separately and together, are visited frequently in Firestone's work.
His desire to understand himself and people in his life led him to study psychology. His need for a creative outlet led him to painting. Firestone's postgraduate work was spent studying schizophrenia and working with patients in the extreme's of emotional suffering. It was at this time, while in Berkeley in the 50's, that he created his first major body of work - a series of remarkably original oils depicting patients, friends and associates, as well as scenes from his many travels. These "expressionistic" paintings, steeped in traditional discipline and technique, highlight his striking sense of composition and color and evoke strong emotions and feelings.
His portraits in particular reveal his burgeoning insights into the "real"human being behind the facade. In "Schizophrenic," one senses the pain and alienation behind the cool demeanor in the seemingly relaxed smoking man, his fiery emotions ready to burst out of the rich blue background.
?In "Blue Sea," another oil from this productive period, Firestone again reveals his surprisingly mature compositional style. This seascape, with its warm red sun settling into the calm, deep blue sea is slightly foreboding as if a storm is gathering force unseen outside the frame of the canvas.
In the early '60's, Firestone moved to Los Angeles to begin private practice. Amidst the sprawling megalopolis and near the sea, he completed a series of highly original black and white city and seascapes. These tempera paintings, done in an almost formal graphic style, create a remarkable sense of movement and life.
In "Bay City," he captures the dynamic interaction of the architecture of city and untamed turbulence of the sea. In "Three City Scenes," a triptych, one senses the swirling chaos beneath man's attempt to superimpose his own order over nature.
Firestone's more recent work has utilized advanced digital techniques to both re-imagine his earlier works and to formulate highly original photo mosaic portraits and digital collages. The use of these new techniques has allowed Firestone to bring together various, and sometimes dissimilar elements, to create powerful imagery. An excellent example of the merger of these elements can be seen in "Self Portrait with Artist's 10 Children", a photo mosaic in which a picture of the artist is overlaid with images of his 10 children.
In "Bay City Blue," his earlier black and white work is redone in blue and gray, simulating the effect of light streaming through the fog.
Likewise, the original black and white "Three City Scenes"(shown above), with the addition of rainbow hues, becomes a dance of light and dark as the colors whirl and flow through each section of the new triptych"Colorful Cities."
Beautiful, and vaguely disquieting, "The Many Faces of Mother" is a particularly compelling work from this new collection. It is also another example of how Firestone uses his art to express complex psychological dynamics. By juxtaposing multiple variations of a woman's picture with different colors, shading and light, Firestone depicts the many faces and attributes of a beautiful woman. She appears in turn proud, inviting, cold, and ambivalent, the artist subtly evoking a young son's feelings of love, fear and fascination as he watches his mother's constantly shifting and changing moods.
Firestone's professional and personal experiences, international travels and sailing adventures continue to powerfully influence his art. Always prolific, the creative application of advanced technology to his traditional artistic techniques and experience has made him even more productive.? His work can be found in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the U.S.
Faced with the existential reality of aloneness, sickness, aging and one's eventual death, man can choose to close off emotionally, desensitize himself and depersonalize, or choose to give value and meaning to life. As a clinical psychologist, author and psychotherapist, I have devoted myself to helping people face their personal demons, know themselves and triumph over their psychological pain and suffering. As an artist, I have attempted to live a creative life, searching for and striving for meaning and beauty. Working with the computer as a creative instrument, I have attempted to invent something feelingful, sensitive and beautiful out of an unfeeling machine. The computer like all of man's technological achievements has been used for both good and evil machinations.
Life and creativity are the antithesis of cynicism and despair. Intimidated by the issue of death and dying, we often turn our backs on life and feeling but instead we could choose to embrace life. We are all fragile and helpless, and therefore brothers. Ideally that would imply empathy, tolerance and generosity towards our fellows.
I live and share life closely with a multitude of other people and try to exemplify a sense of love, enlightenment and joy in being and becoming. My art and my insights into life are a very personal offering to others, a simple sharing of my feelings and perceptions. In my artistic productions, I utilize a variety of images, impressions and approaches to address the fullness and complexity of my experience. In all of my work, I try to blend color and composition into an enjoyable visual experience.
L.A. Mart Art
Schlos St. Peter, Au, Austria
Museo d'Arte Sant' Apollonia, Venice, Italy,
Museo Fundacion Rodriguez Acosta, Granada, Spain,
"Sharing Space IV," Lankershim Art Gallery, Hollywood, California
"Digitized Computer Art Show," Fulton Street Gallery, Troy, NY
Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra, Venice, Italy
Gallery Ravagnan, Venice, Italy
Sylvia White Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Artoconecto 2002: "Untitled #16," Washington, DC
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
Soapbox Gallery, Venice, CA
Gallery West, Alexandria, VA
"Reactions" Exit Art, New York, NY
"Forumulations," CAF Member Artists Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA
"Westworks 2001, Group Show",? Central Wyoming College, Riverton Wyoming
"2001 Group Exhibition", Sylvia White Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Trans Hudson Gallery, New York, NY
Lewis-Clark Center for the Arts & History, Lewiston, ID
CAF Member Artists Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA