Tony Robbin HyperSpace: Line, Color, Form, Pattern

David RIchard Gallery

May. 5, 2024 - Jun. 16, 2023

526 West 26th St, Studio 209
New York, 10001
PHONE 917 853-8161

David Richard Gallery is pleased to present Tony Robbin’s first solo exhibition with the gallery that explores formal and aesthetic approaches to conveying the spatial fourth dimension using geometric vocabularies and patterning techniques. The presentation, HyperSpace: Line, Color, Form, Pattern includes: five large oil paintings measuring 56 x 70 created from 2017 to 2021; a short video demonstrating the manner in which the paintings are made by braiding several three-dimensional arrays and layers of geometric shapes into tessellations spanning the compositions; an early, rare wall sculpture of steel and translucent colored acrylic planes from 1987 that is lit with colored lights to be viewed with 3-D glasses, allowing the viewer to walk into the fourth dimension and experience what Robbin refers to as “braiding space”; an edition work (a double print) comprised of an offset print on paper with a serigraph on mylar situated a quarter inch apart from and in front of the paper piece from 1992 such that the geometric shapes on the mylar and their cast shadows are visible over the imagery on the printed paper; plus, six unique works on paper created with a computer and pen plotter to lay down layers of geometric shapes and patterns on Arches paper with watercolor applied to selected planar shapes highlighting dimensional elements within the composition.

About this Exhibition:

This presentation is organized to not only feature the newest paintings by Robbin with their colorful and gestural overpainting, but create a didactic experience for the viewer whereby, in this instance, the video, earlier wall sculpture, double print, and unique watercolors on paper are all in service to the elucidation and clarification of how Robbin’s complex and detailed compositions are constructed. Thus, attempting to use a visual language with the formal elements of line, color, shape and patterned compositions in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional artworks to convey Robbin’s passion and career commitment to using more complex mathematical calculations and algorithms, computers, and patterning to imagine, model, and picture the fourth dimension in artworks.

Regarding the painterly colorful surfaces of the new oil paintings in this presentation, Robbin’s compositions are comprised of 3 major components: ground, geometry, and the planar shapes of color. However, he felt that the ground became lost with the dense layers of rigorously geometric shapes and arrays of patterns. Therefore, he decided to bring the color back to the foreground with the lyrical and gestural overpainting. Metaphorically, the brushy layers also seem to reference layers of moisture, diffracted light, and distant astral bodies, like stars and moons, that provide atmospheric perspective when considering the complexities and vastness of space.

About Robbin’s Artworks:

In Robbin’s earlier paintings with their purely geometric language, the rectilinear tessellations of hard-edge shapes with extreme vector angles pushed the boundaries of the resulting structures toward curvilinear shapes (or super structures as they move from microstructures to macrostructures). The layering and braiding of such components created inter-related systems along with an opportunity for considering the possibility of a tangible, geometric representation of the fourth dimension that is not accounted for by time nor relies on metaphysical explanations. Robbin’s early interest in and mastering computer programming allowed him to write 4D programs that informed all of his artworks in different media and dimensions, including the oil paintings, sculptures, watercolors on paper, and dimensional edition works. Those programs allowed him to master complexity and as Robbin stated, “place many spaces in the same space at the same time.” [1]

Those same approaches of starting with simple shapes and moving towards large structures that create complex systems and “place many spaces in the same space” is still his methodology today. However, now, Robbin is bringing not only the artist’s hand back to the surface of his paintings, but also using the artist’s mind, memory, and aesthetic judgement to guide decisions alongside his rational and objective mathematical rigor. David Brody’s recent ARTcritical article on Robbin concluded: “Robbin’s painterly improvisations constitute their own kind of systemless system, an open-ended spiral at whose tip all spaces coalesce. ‘Something more’ is there for the seeing.” [2]

Stepping back further and considering early influences on his artwork, Al Held was Robbin’s teacher at Yale and they remained life-long friends and colleagues. The two artists fed off each other’s audacious and ever challenging compositions, both intellectually, in terms of mathematical considerations for conveying the complexities of spatial concerns in a two-dimensional picture plane and aesthetically, in terms of color, form, and composition. [2]

Robbin, in the early 1970s, was more aligned with Robert Kushner, Joyce Kozloff, and Valerie Jaudon who are known for the emergence of the Pattern and Decoration movement. Given the patterning inherent in his tessellated geometric forms, Robbin still refers to his work as Pattern Painting, a better description of his and other such mathematically oriented practitioners over any reference to decoration.[2] Anne Swartz wrote in her definitive 2007 exhibition, “Pattern and Decoration, An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975-1985″, “Robbin took apart rigid minimalist, formalist, and conceptualist boundaries in [his] paintings.”[3] Thereby acknowledging that Robbin has borrowed, adapted, and expanded beyond many approaches and historical movements to explore his visual representation of the fourth dimension and thus his artworks remain challenging to narrowly characterize and place historically.

Another early influence on Robbin’s artistic endeavors, mathematical research, and computer modeling was “Art Historian Linda Henderson who has thoroughly documented the power of the spatial fourth dimension (time is not one of them) to challenge and inspire the artists who created modern art, beginning with cubism. [Robbin] is squarely in that tradition and has furthered it with modern computer capabilities.” [1]

About Tony Robbin:

Tony Robbin has had over 32 solo exhibitions of his painting and sculpture since his debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974, and been included in over 100 group exhibitions in 12 countries. Tony Robbin: A Retrospective was shown at the Orlando Museum in 2011, and reprieved at the Foosaner Art Museum in 2018. Robbin is featured in the retrospectives of the P & D movement at LAMOCA and the Hessel Museum, as well as those at le Consortium Dijon/ MAMCO Geneva, and in the catalogues of those exhibitions. David Brody apprised Robbin’s work in the recent essay [2]

Shadows of Reality, Tony Robbin’s book was published by Yale University Press (YUP) in 2006, which argues that four-dimensional projective geometry is the mathematical system best suited to describe reality. He is also the author of the book Engineering a New Architecture, YUP in 1996, and also the book Fourfield: Computers, Art & the Fourth Dimension, published in 1992 by Bulfinch Press/ Little, Brown & Company. His 2011 memoir Mood Swings, a Painter’s Life, is a Kindle book. Also, he has published a Kindle book, Essays 1969-2016. He has written 28 papers and articles, mostly for peer review publications, and lectured to professional organizations and university departments of art, physics, mathematics, computer science, architecture, and engineering in the United States, in Europe and Japan, including engineering society meetings in Atlanta, Copenhagen, Guilford, and Budapest.

A pioneer in computer visualization of four-dimensional geometry. Since 1981, Robbin’s realtime rotation programs of four-dimensional figures have been useful for obtaining an intuitive feel for four-dimensional and quasicrystal space.

Robbin holds the patent for the application of Quasicrystal geometry to architecture, and has implemented this geometry for a large-scale architectural sculpture at the Danish Technical University in Lyngby, Denmark, as well as one for the city of Jacksonville, Florida.

[1] Tony Robbin, Email to David Eichholtz, April 21, 2023.

[2] David Brody, In Einstein’s Cave: Tony Robbin, An Appreciation. Artcritical, Thursday, December 3rd, 2020.

[3] Anne Swartz, Arthur C. Danto, John Perreault, Temma Balducci, Michael Botwinick, Hudson River Museum, Ann Swartz (Editor), 2007, “Pattern and Decoration, An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975-1985″, Published by Hudson River Museum.

All Artwork
Copyright © Tony Robbin
Courtesy David Richard Gallery

All photographs by Yao Zu Lu.

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