Robert Rose symbology
So Goes Eden
This work was recently sold. We have more available work by this master of the ceramic arts.
This is another interpretation of my experience in Bali. This is about my disappointment in seeing an island culture being eroded away by the influences of western corporate interests. The indigenous people are somewhat naïve, as to what is fully coming at them. It is truly a clash of cultures, one that will challenge the values of a culture, and with all probability will change those values forever. Bali has already endured a colonization war and won their independence from the Dutch, but this new threat comes with a disguise, its’ deception being unfamiliar to people of humbler values. The people of Bali live in a virtual 'Eden', the land, sky, and sea provide everything they would ever need. And with that stirring beauty what does a McDonalds, or a KFC offer in the way of enhancement?. Cultural, or otherwise. It is so ironic that we westerners see Bali as just that, ' Eden', and we flock there in our quest to "get away from it all". We have created our own rat-race life style back home. It overwhelms us, and we yearn to find a place that is completely different. It may even stem from something as deep as a primal urge to reconnect with our instinctual roots, mother nature.
But we always end up doing the same thing, after the next great 'get away' has been discovered. We bring aspects of our rat-race life to that very place, poison it, and destroy it. In Balis’ case, not only is the environment under attack, but so are the people and their cultural values. Although this invasion is not as direct as the Dutch one, its’ deceptive aim is as critical. My intent through the images on this vessel is to portray in a seemingly exaggerated way, a basic truth as to what is happening in this island culture, reminiscent of 'Eden'.
"Seek and yee shall find". The teapot is symbolic of a ceremony, which many partake in as a deeper heartfelt reconnection to life. Many cultures have elaborate ceremonial customs. The viewer observes many puzzling elements, the imagery is simultaneously an inward/outward reflection observing our connection to life, and the pursuit of a spiritual connection and greater health. Woven through the mechanics of a surrealistic interpretation, this theme flows around the teapot inquisitively reminding us of what we are and what we are a part of.
This work is about the 'Cargo Cultures' that developed throughout some of the remote island cultures in the South Pacific islands during WWII. As our military forces occupied certain strategic islands for stockpiling supplies, it was common practice to air drop those supplies. Many of those remote cultures had never seen airplanes previously, or for that matter, ever seen much of western man. They were impressed with the powers we seemed to posses. It was quite similar to when the Spaniards invaded Latin America, and the Native peoples were in awe of what these strange new people could do. Seeing these flying machines were impressive enough, but when all these marvelous 'supplies' were dropping from the skies like gifts from the Gods, this really got the tribal cultures’ attention. Naturally as all indigenous cultures go, they wanted to know who the new peoples’ leader was. L.B.J. was Americas’ president at that time so it was told, ' he' is our leader. Many of these tribes were so impressed, that they began to pay respects to 'the great leader'. As with many traditional rituals, they created shrines to pay respect to, and to worship L.B.J. They wanted portraits of L.B.J. to further embellish those shrines, and the whole misguided episode just grew. Often supply boats would come to these islands powered by the newly manufactured style of 'Johnson outboard motor'. Yet another manifestation of L.B.J.'s great power. Wonder Stories conveys this twisted, and very humorous little story, of two very different cultures, encountering each other.
Eve & Eva
This is a commentary on the same sex issue, and on issues of sexuality, in a public or social context. Seeing as how lesbians are more palatable in our culture, I somewhat chauvinistically chose to portray the feminine aspect of the issue. Erotic art is a tricky line to walk, as it is so easy to misinterpret, and is often times lopped into a pornographic category. Relatively few galleries will even entertain the subject, so it is with great care that one will invest the time to create art that approaches this threshold. I do not shy away from this area, as a matter of fact I will often times shoot point blank at it. Sex may not be the core aspect of life, but it is intrinsically A core aspect. If there lie any doubts about that, reflect for a moment on how much of our daily thoughts encompass sex. Consider that sex is a core motivator of our actions. None of us would be here if it were not for this basic fact of life. I can understand the reaction of a shy person, but I feel it is a type of prudism, and outright immaturity when the labeling of something as erotic art, encourages a near total reluctance to promote, or accept the work. It is a topic that generates so much energy, so much passion, and such strong responses. What characteristics define a good piece of art? Does it provoke an intellectual or emotional response from the viewer? Or does it just look pleasant enough to place in a living room. If an artists’ intent is to invoke human response, when that happens, is that considered a successful work of art? Just ask any advertising agency, "what advertising tool sells products the best?". Sex and the erotic side of human nature are certainly a vibrant subject to explore. To utilize, to provoke response, and to generate interest, but the inability to respond to, and accept most erotic art in a mature manner, seems to suppress the dialogue and understanding, at least from an artistic point of view. Yes, the pornography industry is thriving, but what about the far more mature erotic art sector?. If the maturity of the populace would rise above where it is now, I believe we would see a renaissance of art that would perhaps more passion and romance? It would be magnificent if humans could openly and freely accept this subject in art, and hold it in the same regard as a landscape. Both subjects are facts of life , why should one be so shameful and kept in the background, while the other is openly portrayed? Collective immaturity and prudishness? And perhaps that same immaturity is what denies same sex couples the basic right to share in the same nuptial commitment as heterosexuals, and to be accepted by society. Who are we to pass judgment on our fellow human beings, in this mutual commitment in marriage? What if God created woman first, and then created another woman to try and improve the first one?, And Adam never entered Gods’ mind, and immaculate conception was the plan all along?. Hence, I give you Eve & Eva.
Find the Truth Within/Startling Stories
This is an observation of the intrinsic power struggle ( the Ying & Yang) which lies within all of us, and is even more profoundly echoed throughout all forms of nature. Surrealism is a wonderful artistic medium for exploring the often bizarre and unexplainable inner being, and also so many aspects of human nature. It allows a playful, visual feast of imagination, one that we normally see only in dreams. As in dreams many events are representations of our own personal reality. Other aspects are with all likelihood, just simply the playful mind , free from the constraints of the very structured world we consciously live in, for the better part of each day. Sometimes in my art I like to bring that playful side of the subconscious mind into the composition, weaving it together with aspects of our conscious (factual) world. Surrealism is a great opportunity for that menagerie of the human psyche, to be expressed. Ironically, when one studies physics and gains knowledge of just how things really work in the physical world, the lines between dream, fantasy, and reality get very blurry. It is quite fascinating, how deceptive the mechanics of our physical ability to perceive reality, really are. For example, when you observe a plane landing it is traveling at nearly 140 mph, yet it looks like its putting along at just 40 mph. That is just one example of the flawed nature of our senses, and the way they allow us to perceive and interpret the world around us. That overlooked truth is a bit surreal, and I find it interesting enough to portray in certain aspects of my art. Life is not always as we perceive it to be. Often, in our interactions with others, we only see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear, but always there is the phenomenon of misperception at play. In our attempts to understand life and what it means to us, can we ever really be certain of 'reality' or "the Truth Within"?. The ying & yang of our own reality and dreams. On some levels, our own dreams can be as vast, magnificent, and as mysterious as the physical world is. Sometimes even more. Kind of a startling story in, and of itself.
Last of the Tubuan
These people were of New Ireland, in the region of Papua New Guinea. The Tubuan people/tribe were wiped out at the early part of 20th century from tribal feuding. I love the history , art and folklore of the Pacific island cultures, although I deeply admire many cultures throughout the world. I enjoy drawing inspiration from many South Pacific island cultures, and like to work these influences into my art. In the hope of keeping alive, and respectfully updating and perpetuating their significance in human history, I like to reflect on their cultural folklore , traditions , and values , so they are not lost to antiquity. As an artist I can choose to simply observe, and move onto other sources of inspiration. But I am inspired by the arts of these island cultures. They provoke emotion within, and stimulate my artistic sensibilities, and perhaps there is some lineal primal connection, but in reality I do not really need to fully understand it. It just stirs up emotions, and I react to them. Many of these cultures did not possess the ability to create elaborate forms of art to tell their stories. They relied on the wood carvers and weavers to tell the story. A laborious format, but due to the absence of even paper and ink, it worked to keep the stories alive for the next generation. Few cultures had developed the ability of the Chinese and Japanese culture, to create elaborate ceramic work and embellish a pictorial narrative that conveys some aspect of their culture. In " Last of the Tubuan ", I feel like the story teller, filling that void that was created when the tribal communities who inhabited that region, lacked the ability to create such elaborate and embellished ceramics. Subsequently, there are not many details to the story due to the lack of materials and ability to account for all of the facts, but we can pay tribute in our own way.
So Goes Karma
This urn was created in response to my close proximity to the 2003 Tsunami that hit Thailand, and many other countries in the region. It was quite a moving experience and out of it many ideas came rushing through my mind. How could an event such as this, not be thought provoking, and such a powerful emotional experience? Many people are still just getting by, 6 years on. I intend to donate 40% of my profit of the sale of this urn towards the Tsunami relief fund.
'So Goes Karma', captures the intensity of this ominous force of nature and its’ impending destruction upon a village. On one side sits a character calmly fishing from his boat indifferent to the events playing out behind him. He is not concerned as his faith provides him with the protection of guardians and angels. He has in fact moved to a safer place for he has learned to communicate intuitively to his environment and to his guardians. As with any culture that lives in such a direct connection to their environment, a deeper intuitive perception is forged, and such was the case with many of the Sea Gypsy cultures who avoided this show of force, act of nature, or karma. Many other cultures have forgone this deeper primal connection for various reasons that are as simple as food supply sources. Food and water are derived from other means, via monetary exchange systems. Though this does offer some freedom from the laborious tasks of hunting and gathering, the price all too often is that lost connection to the environment, which all too easily lead to a loss of respect for the environment. Many insects and mammals know when disasters are impending, and we marvel at it because it seems so mysterious. How could these simple creatures anticipate what is about to happen? We even pour our money into research to understand this 'phenomenal ability'. But as is the case with so many of lifes’ pursuits , what we are so adamant about finding, is usually right under our own nose's. Some of these people, through their understanding and reverance for the environment, heard the warning signs.
The fate of the people on the other path is played out on the opposite side of the urn. This ominous force of nature is also captured in the very shape of this piece. The distorted elliptical, leaning pose all are evidence of the impact of the tsunami. One handle is actually representative of the tsunami itself, splashing against the side.
One great irony in this story lies in our ever increasing arrogance, that compels us to attempt to gain understanding and control of the natural world. We are engaged in a race with time so that we may know and control nature! Instead of simply slowing down and "stopping to smell the flowers'. T. S. Eliot once said" some men go fishing their whole lives and never realize it's not fish they are after". He did not need to finish what he intended to imply , but I will, and I may suggest it is peace of mind. In our obsession to master the universe, in an effort to gain greater profits, or find an easier path, we lose many of our basic and freely given abilities, and perhaps the very thing we desire most. Is this not ironic? So often it is said, that the best things in life are free, that one statement is so subtle, yet so profound. Hence, I suggest that a simple choice of paths, could have been the determining factor that saved lives, or destroyed nearly 300,000 lives in one unsuspecting moment.