The term 'classic' does not necessarily reside in the same sentence as 'abstraction' but when considering Robert Bigelow’s work, they are aptly applied. He has adhered to a standard of methodology that he has consistently employed, a record keeping from his mind to the page. His art making is derived from impulses conceived apart from any reference to concrete realities. The quality or characteristics that he expresses have the 'classic' qualities of enduring interest first awakened during the beginnings of modernism - the reference to the materials, mark making, and the page as a ground upon which to place the gestures of an artist rather than as a window through which to observe a depiction. His work brings to mind the painterly giants of yore Kandinsky, Klee, Dubuffet and even the contortions of Guston.
Since, as humans, we exist within a physical world but posses an awareness of a spiritual, the channel between the two is, for Bigelow, ART. If art and religion are similar, there would have to be a practice to support this association, an artistic practice similar to the devotions of a priest in order to tune into the spiritual state. The process is “abstract automatism”. Robert Bigelow's hand is the channel from which his awareness of spiritual visual realms is brought into this physical world. Each art piece is a visual record of a mind state.
The work that results from his practice gives back to the viewer a rich and complex positivism. It sets up a map of visual freedom that grants permission to wander the spirals, color fields, dizzy depths and convoluted space with an independent mind. I can interpret a Bigelow to suit myself. I can converse with his page, talk back to the premises that he has set up and become a part of the conversation that he has begun. A Bigelow, once outside of the mind of Robert Bigelow allows me to be alive as well, to bring my spiritual understanding to bear on the visual world that he has set before me. He allows me to revisit the reasons why abstraction is so visually conducive to personal interpretation and in doing so, allows a receptive participation in the creative process.
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes