The Art Assassin

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang

Chapter 24: ASSASSINATION: Robert Darabos, Artist Represented by Ugallery and Student

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Photograph of Robert Darabos on an armchair. Courtesy of Robert Darabos.
Robert Darabos: Geometric Composition I, 2008, acrylic on masonite board, 36 by 48 inches. Courtesy of Ugallery.

I was glad to have the chance to speak with Mr. Robert Darabos, who is a current student at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His interest in updating the traditions of modernist abstraction into an art world infected by the world of Facebook and the iPod grabbed my perked up eyes.

Darabos’ mastery of line, shape, and color including some figurative elements and drips startles the viewer into a continuous sense of awe and surprise. Even though he continues to develop his style and his themes, his command of techniques is evident in his inspired compositions. The “Rorschach Abstractions” series has become the pinnacle of an interdiscliplinary approach where a psychological tool is modified into a fanciful celebration of a purist‘s form.

If you have any questions about Darabos’ artwork, feel free to contact Ugallery at (888) 402-1722 or at sales@ugallery.com.

Now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: You are represented by Ugallery, which is one of the foremost online galleries based in Scottsdale and New York City. How did you get in touch with the gallery and get your work featured on it? How does it differ from being represented by a physical gallery? Has the online model been more helpful for your art career?

Robert Darabos: I heard about the art gallery from word of mouth.  It was one of them decisions that i was reluctent to go through with at first because of the whole viewpoint of on-line galleries but eventually I decided to go through with it.

The difference between the on-line galleries and that of physical galleries varies in a few ways.  i have more control using an on-line gallery and avoid many expenses such as traveling, framing and advertising.  whereas a solo exhibition in a major physical gallery could easily be the ‘spark’ of a career as an artist, i feel that something needs to be completed before i reach that point and Ugallery was a great option for me.

qi peng: Do you read any art journals or magazines such as ARTnews or Parkett’s or Art in America or ArtForum? How does your knowledge of what is going on the contemporary art scene in other cities influence your ideas or what you choose to do within your art studio? Do you feel that working within the Michigan area, in your case Saginaw, has been helpful to place your artwork within the context of the broader contemporary art world? What joys and frustrations do you face as an emerging artist within a huge city?

Robert Darabos: Occasionally I’ll flip through some art magazines, but I don’t make it a necessity to see what is going on in the rest of the art world.  I’m more interested in doing what I personally think is interesting and important and don’t want to be influenced by contemporary styles outside of that of my own.

Working within the saginaw, michigan, area is not an overly helpful venue.  as unfortunate as it is, there are not a great deal of artistic opportunities around here. i much prefer traveling south an hour or two and showing my work in ann arbor or some times in detroit.

i think that i face the same frustrations that any emerging artist faces and that is usually just wondering when the next show comes around.  some times months pass without the opportunity for new shows, commissions or work and you have to kind of wonder if you are moving in the wrong direction lately.  it’s always the “out-of-no-where” commission or sell that keeps you motivated; the random show that wins an award or gets a notice in a newspaper… that’s what makes you realize things are well and gets you back in the studio to work.

qi peng: Your work has a good balance between hard-edged abstraction and minimalism. Would you mind explaining the development of your current style? How has your education at Saginaw Valley State University helping your ideas and techniques so far? What avenues do you hope to explore within the future?

Robert Darabos: My current art style (as seen by the painting example) is influenced almost completely by Wassily Kandinsky.  I have always been interested in his use of colors and shapes and how they can carry your eye around a canvas.  I have also been inspired and influenced by joan Miro and particularily like his use of free-flowing lines and shapes, so i attempt to mix both kandinsky and Miro together into a geometric compositional painting.

i have been working almost exclusively in printmaking as of lately, and i find it a very rewarding experience.  though painting has always been my medium of choice, printmaking is slowly becoming more important and interesting to me.  i started out learning how to work with linoleum, woodcuts and mono prints but have been slowly expanding my knowledge to other styles and techniques such as serigraphy, etching, aqua tint, as well as some techniques i have been developing on my own.

qi peng: How do you title your artworks? I feel that they are rather mysterious and vague in its description such as “Sun in a Box.” Do you consider these phrases to be based on the reality of nature with a hint of poetic mystery? Also do you have any poets or writers that you are inspired by?

Robert Darabos: A lot of my works are titled through inspiration from other sources, such as Roman and Greek mythology.  In the case of geometric works, I try not to think of what the title should be and just concentrate on the artwork.  The title is usually something that comes with time.  a particular geometric series of mine, titled “Geometric Compositions,” is titled purely in order of the painting, i.e. Geometric Composition I, Geometric Composition II, etc.  I feel like by doing this it doesn’t give any reference to the painting in real world and allows the viewer to make of it whatever they like.

As far as the “Sun in a box” piece, that is a painting based around an entire series of works about the central idea of a sun in a box.  the concept is to show the sun, an enormously powerful object, and have it contained within an object, as though anything, no matter how powerful, can still be contained.  the pieces always show the ‘sun’ partially breaking free from the box, such as solar flares bursting outwards, contradicting the containment idea, noting that no matter how hard you try to contain something, there is always some way to get free.  the series isn’t intended to focus directly on the sun and is meant to think outwardly on containment and freedom of your own experiences and decisions in life.

qi peng: You have a brilliant and vibrant, wide-ranging use of the color palette and command of shape and line. How do you choose the colors and arrange the shapes into new forms and compositions? How predetermined or spontaneous do you consider your artworks? Do you sketch out your compositions before you work on the final version of the piece? Are you influenced by Robert Mangold?

Robert Darabos: The composition is something that i sketch out first then come back to in the future.  i may have twenty or more geometric sketches and ideas at all times and i will revisit these ideas occasionally to see if they seem fitting to what i want to accomplish with the task at hand.  usually these sketches go through more changes and perhaps that is what makes them so interesting to me.

qi peng: What was your experience at the art school at Saginaw Valley State University like? Do you have any memorable teachers or artists that had a strong impact on your painting or studio practice? What is your opinion about open studio visits and critique sessions for young artists? How do you think that art education can improve to help out artists who are choosing to make painting or other types of artwork for a full-time career?

Robert Darabos: My experiences at Saginaw Valley State University have some mixed feelings.  the college is not a college which has a lot of money going towards the arts, so true experimentation and learning is often times done on your own.  i’ve been taught some basics like composition, color theory and other things like that, but the majority of my technique and experimentation must be completed outside of the classroom.  outside of my printmaking professor, which has allowed me complete freedom to experiment anyway i like, no one else has had any real impact on me as an artist.

i think colleges should have more open studio critiques.  it is a difficult thing for a lot of students to receive harsh criticism and to hear that they are doing things wrong, but it is that criticism that makes artists realize that they need to step up their game and figure out new ways to accomplish what they are aiming for.  you need to have a strong backbone to really put up with it, accept it and try to learn from it all.

it’s a difficult question how art education can change to help people take on careers in the arts.  i realize that the fundamentals are always important, but when you have four years of fundamentals and basics, it kind of destroys your creativity and style.  i think colleges need to start letting artists do what they desire and help them move in whatever direction they think they need to be moving in.

qi peng: You mention that your consistent themes and subjects within your artwork are “random things [you] see along the way” and “everyday architecture.” How are these preoccupations shown within your early paintings? Do these themes continue into your latest series of recent abstract paintings? Are you influenced by Matisse and Picasso and Ellsworth Kelly in terms of your composition? What type of architecture are you referencing?

Robert Darabos: I am inspired by ancient architecture, especially that of the greeks, romans and egyptians.  these inspirations are shown much more in my printmaking work and is completely void in my paintings.  my paintings are based much more upon abstraction, as mentioned priorly, especially to that of Kandinsky and Miro.

My printmaking styles and techniques have a much greater inspirational basis, including artists like Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, John James Audubon, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

qi peng: What is a typical day in the Robert Darabos studio like? What habits or methods would you consider to be your standard studio practice? Does your work get any ideas from your being located in the urban beauty of New York?

Robert Darabos: A day in my studio is quite hectic.  I don’t have a lot of time to be working on my art throughout the week because of college so the weekend is my “catch-up” time.  it’s spent running all over the place doing paintings, serigraphs, woodcuts, linocuts, occasionally some sculpture.  i can take some time during the week to get these ideas sketched out or have the basics like drawings and priming finished, but the bulk of the work is always done during the weekend.  it’s that feeling that you get as an artist that i can never do enough work… it’s always the urge to do one more painting, one more series, design, etc.  you never know what you will be noticed for in order to “break-out” so you need to take advantage of every second you can to do what you love in the arts.

qi peng: What is your opinion of the art fairs, particularly the ones in New York or Miami areas? Do you feel that the economic recession will help or hurt artists who are hoping to have their work shown or bought in the market? Do you have any memorable experiences with any of your collectors? Also do you feel that the recession had any impact on online art sales?

Robert Darabos: [no answer]

qi peng: Would you like to share your favorite music, movie, objects, artists, recent exhibitions, galleries, television shows, sports, or other cultural artifacts with fans of your work? What things do you enjoy about the things that you have chosen as your favorites? Are there any restaurants or hangouts around Michigan that you wish to recommend us?

Robert Darabos: [no answer]

qi peng: Would there be anything that you would to share with fans of your artwork or the readers of the column here?

Robert Darabos: To anyone who follows my art or is a fan just keep an eye out.  there’s always more work being done and is listed and posted as soon as finished.  for anyone who would like to see artwork out of what is posted on Ugallery or other like sites, you can visit my myspace page for constant updates and artwork news: http://www.myspace/robertdarabos

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at qipengart@gmail.com
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Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 1:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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