'Robert Lang's paintings take some unpicking. In them, photographic sources, transcribed in swathes of streaky paint, lose their clarity, like Polaroids de-developing. Figures appear in snatched fragments or at a distance, engaged in ambiguous outdoor activities - digging, camping, starting a fire - ahistorical actions that nonetheless allude to something post-nuclear, something apocalyptic.
Thinned-down paint is dabbed on uncertainly, unsure of what it's describing. It bleeds and fades: there's something insubstantial about it. The paintings' supports - linen, oak and canvas - emerge through the paint like the bottom of a river. There's a sense of impending loss, of something slipping out of memory, dissolving.
Neurotic photo-based painting is nothing new, but what gives Lang's works their heady charge is his use of rich, bodily colour. Lush purples and greens and turquoises evoke the fade of a sun-blanched photo and give the works their strange romanticism. There's a heat to the paintings that connects them as readily to David Park or even Delacroix as to Tuymans or Richter.
In Fumble (2008), a figure bends inside a kite-shaped hole. Paint, applied in cautious little stabs, prescribes its own descriptive limits. It does what it can. In places it has the urgency and awkwardness of finger-painting. Something wants to be said, but can't. Lang's paintings deny themselves complete descriptive facility: they can't find the right words.'
Ben Street 2009
Qualifications and training
- 2008 MA Fine Art, University of the West of England, Bristol
- 2013 Das Wird Sich Alles Finden, TBC, Cleveland, USA
- 2012 Angelika Open, Angelika Studios, High Wycombe
- 2012 The Searchers, Centrespace, Bristol
- 2012 Maarten van den Bos, Jaap de Vries, Robert Lang, Appels Gallery, Amsterdam
- 2012 Painters Embassy, Appels Gallery, Amsterdam
- 2011 Remote Viewing, Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol
- 2011 Deptford X Open, Core Gallery, London
- 2011 Hasenheide Art Projects, TBC, Berlin
- 2011 Open Painting Show, Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol
- 2011 Fade Away, Gallery North, Newcastle
- 2010 Fade Away, Transition Gallery, London
- 2010 Salon 2010, Matt Roberts Arts, London
- 2010 Exeter Contemporary Open, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter
- 2010 Artworks Open 2010, ArtWorks Project Space, Blackhorse Lane Studios, London
- 2009 ArtSway Open 09, ArtSway, Sway
- 2009 Salisbury Drawing Open 09, Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury
- 2009 CGP Open, CGP London, Southwark Park, London
- 2009 Overview: Modern Painting, Elysium Artspace, Swansea
- 2009 Particles / Particles, Surface Gallery, Nottingham
- 2008 MA Show, Spike Island, Bristol
- 2011 Cieplice summer studio, Hello Collective, Jelenia Gora, Poland
Competitions, prizes and awards
- 2009 Prizewinner at CGP London open, CGP London, Southwark Park London
- 2007 Prizewinner at the CGP London Open, CGP London, Southwark Park, London
- 2004 Innes Wilkin Art in Architecture Prize, UWE Bristol, Bristol