This article continues my series on the illusion of Depth in painting, with a focus on contemporary artist Chris Rohrbach Prior articles (more general) are Depth in painting, a short into; and The Road to Perspective (development of depth in my own abstracts), and articles on Artist Lutz Baar, Janine Riley, and H Drew
The Expressive Space of Chris Rohrbach
Chris Rohrbach’s work evokes one of my personal favorite periods in Art – Expressionism. His expressive scenes are built on a masterful set of skills with light, color, form and volume and paint. Chris Rohrbach’s facility with paint and painting techniques can be clearly seen in the juicy volumes achieved in his still-lifes. In his still life his mastery of techniques like chiascuro and ideas such as light and shadow color and temperature are evident. This is true whether it’s an impressionistic yet realer-than-life cupcake, or an abstracted expressive and moody beer on a bar.
In the two still life paintings above it is clear that, like Janine Riley, Chris Rohrbach chooses which factors to use to create depth – and which ones to alter for creative and expressive effect. In the cupcake at the left, a sublimely accurate attention to perspective is combined with a deep understanding of light and shadow to create a volume that pops off the surface. In contrast, the beer still life at right retains a sense of volume while perspective is broken in places and light and shadow are alluded to and then abstracted. While less realistic it is also more dramatic and evocative.
Chris Rohrbach’s landscape works feature a number of bridge paintings such as the one above. The structural and engineering elements of each bridge combine with a firm understanding of perspective to create a feeling of space. Even though his color scheme is unrealistic – almost Expressionistic – his bridges feel like structures the viewer could move though, cross and explore. His abstracted color schemes still allude quite strongly to the color and temperature of light and shadow. Combined with an exaggerated expressive palette and roughly abstracted planes and forms, the effect is magical.
When Chris Rohrbach moves away from interior spaces and away from the built environment into paintings of nature and the outdoors, the expressive qualities of his works remain. In works like the seascape above, color again alludes to the qualities of light and shadow, form and atmosphere without being too literal. A realistic scene is identified and a mood created. Color and softening of the horizon are used to evoke a feeling of a great airy atmospheric space.
It is worth noting that like Lutz Baar, Chris Rohrbach is also a very strong and accomplished abstract artist. The textures, forms and volumes developed in his abstract paintings provide an interesting counterpoint to representation and abstraction in his more representational work.
Next up: H. Drew and the spaces of space