A nationally recognized artist, Singleton, 85, has been a full-time practicing artist and painter for over 60 years. He moved to West Virginia in 1978 in search of privacy, time, and space. He designed and built his home and studio and has since called a remote mountain top home. His early work focused on abstract expressionist imagery. In recent years, the dedication of his work has been “to the joy and poetry of light in the form of clouds,” the shape of which is “an abstract, ever-changing vessel for me to transport light, shared astonishment and hopefulness coming from within.”
Life's Connected Events . . .Now,thatIaminmy85thyear,Icanonlylookatmypreviousworkasapreamble.Iwork daily,exploring,discoveringnewinspirationsfornewimages.Knowingthevastnessof the unknown becomes ever clearer.Thelifelongstoryofmyartisticapproachistoquestioncreativityitselfandwhereit comesfrom.Isitreallyabouttheartist/creatorastheauthorofmetaphors;the biographerofillusions?Or,isitmoreaboutlifeandtheinfluenceoflife'sconnected events which result in the measured evolution of the imaginative act?Inthemid-1950'sIstudiedpaintingunderaprofessorwhowasadiscipleofHans Hoffman.Inthesixtysomeyearssince,myarthaspassedthroughmany transformations.InthesamewayI,asaperson,haveevolved.LifeandArt,thetwoare still analogous paths; side by side, my work has always reflected these many passages.Oneofthejourneysofgreatimpactinmyartisticdevelopmenttookplacein1960. Asayoungadult,ItraveledacrosstheUnitedStatesandsawforthefirsttimethegreat expanse of the plains of the Midwest.VisuallywhatIexperiencedwasprofound. TheHorizonLine. Iwroteinmy sketchbook,"Youcanturn360degreesandseenothing.”FromKansason,thisline spellboundme. Alinethatwasthedivisionbetweenskyandthewide-openprairie; uncluttered space, empty space with this hard, crisp line intersecting.Continue to Next Page
Asachild,onmanylevels,Iwasaccustomedtoloneliness.Visually,whatIwitnessed translatedtodeepemotions. IsawwhatIasachildhadfelt.Ifoundinthenaturalworlda humanemotion. Intheyearstocome,thisemotionwouldtranslateintoimagesofempty spacedividedbyasinglehorizontalline. Thetiebetweenthevisualandtheemotionalself would merge. Creativityhasbeenavoiceexpressingadeeppersonaldesiretospeakofthebroad spectrum of human emotions. Our state of existence . . .Thecreativeprocess,asoftenasnot,isclutteredwithhumanfrailties.Still,artisa subjectivemanifestationofthosefrailties,anexpressionofboththepainandthejoyoflife.The pain of the internal search and the joy of the found.... expressed!Theoneabsolutetruthofmylifehasbeenmyart,avisualcommunicationofpoetic perception,areflectivestateofanauthenticsearch.Atagivenmomentintimethatcreative expressionbecomesacompositeoftheentiretyofthisperson’sbeing...bringingallthe creator is to that discipline.Inthemid-1970slookinguptowardstheskymyimaginationwascapturedagain,this timebyclouds.Imagesweoftentakeforgranted,seeneveryday;abovethehorizonline filled with abstract forms of light and atmosphere, the ever-changing poetry of clouds.Creationisoftendescribedasamovementfromaneternalunformedandunchanging darkchaos.Skyandearthlietogetherinachangelessembraceuntilforcedapartbytheir offspring,whodriveawedgebetweenthemproducinglightandmovement.Mypaintings explorethesecreationdynamics.Whydidourearlyancestorspickthemeetingofskyand earth as a creative beginning? Eachofmylaterpaintingsisacreationwhosesubjectiscreation.Skyandearthare usuallymaleandfemaleinmythandfromthispolarityallotherthingsderive.Withoutpolar tensionsthereisnomotionandnostory.Thus,theskyandsea/eartharealwaysdividedby ahorizon-wedgekeepingthemintensionandproducingclouds,which,intheirmovement andreflectionoflight,bringtemporalityandprocess.Nothingchangesmorequicklythan clouds,whoseshapeandcolorcanannouncebrutalviolenceorreflectgloriousspectacular light through which our consciousness seeks to gain unity with nature.
Whileeveryworkofarthastoachieveabalanceofthetensionorforcesthat motivatedit,mypaintingsincludeasenseofimminentfuturewhichisfullof potentialities.Mostofmycloudsannouncebetterandmaybegreatereventsareaboutto happen. The paintings reveal the "world" of our moment in a more relevant way. Why continue this quest? The answer is not complicated. My art is my Life.Creatively I see the future of my work/life as a continuation of providing a means of uncovering the core of our collective evolutionary message; our intuitive understanding and cumulative experience ingrained and transmitted through generations since the dawn of time. Creativity is the search for our shared universal aware
“War is a place where young people who don’t know each other, and don’t hate each other, kill each other, by the decision of older rulers who know each other and hate each other, but don’t kill each other…”Erich Hartmann: German fighter pilot during World War II.
*March 24, 2022: I saw this picture in the news. It collided with me at the core. Bring back images from the distant past.
Casualties of WarsRomance on CanvasBy Grace KehrerSpring 1969Robert Singleton as an artist stands in the shadows of Romantic, realistic and transcendental movements where notions like Nature, Man, Society, Individualism and Responsibility are strained though the reality of two world wars, police actions, a crass materialism and an intensifying depersonalization. Finding himself caught up in a miasmic atmosphere created, in part, by computer, "Wagers" and a relativistic viewpoint, Singleton, the self-admitted incurable romantic, attempts to understand a sick society and bring intelligible order to a chaotic universe. Singleton's paintings on oversize canvases, done in primary colors, stand testimonial to contemporary styling techniques executed under the banner of "Art for Art's sake." However, the questions, often spelled out in block letters, are timeless and universal. While Singleton does not offer a solution to the problem of man's inhumanity to man, nor locate a center of human spirituality, he does examine the phenomena, continuing the quest in a personal, thoughtful and sensitive manner.
Two paintings commissioned by the Orlando Sentinel represent the artist personal statement and not a compromise. The first painting seems to suggest the Influential nature of newspapers and the danger present in the, "facts" presented by the editors reflecting the "opinions" of the publisher.
The second painting develops the idea of journalistic responsibility and influence. Interjecting often ignored, possibly forgotten notions of equality, ethics, freedom and unbiased news, printed upon a white field surrounding a patriotically colored centre, one can only hope these subtleties are not lost on the Sentinel staff.
Journalistic Responsibility – 1967 – 78” X 120” ~ Commissioned by the Orlando Sentinel
Singleton's latest work, one produced after much thought, recognizes the reality of the generation gap. A literary message, in dialogue form over the figure of a dying boy, it exposes the inarticulate nature of questions, the naivete of answers and the pain suffered by men separated by chronological age and appetite. Text as it appearers in paintingIJUSTDEPARTEDWHYNATIONALSECURITYWHATTHEYCALLWARWHYSOWAGERSMAYLIVEBUTYOUARESOYOUNGTHEYOUTHHAVETHESTRENGTHOFBODYWHATOSLIFETHATISFORTHEWAGERSWONTYOUMISSITWHATOFLIFEWHYWHATOFLIFEWHYWONTYOUMISSITWHYWHYWHYWHYLegible"I just departed." "Why'?" "National Security; what they call war." "Why?" "So wagers may live" "But you are so young" "The youth have the strength of body" "What of life?" "That is for the wagers." "Won’t you miss It?" "What of life?'' "Why?" "Won't you miss it?" "Why?" "What of life?''
WHY? - Panted at the MacDowell Colony - 1969 - 82” X 92” Oil on canvas
1969 Florida State University – With WHY? hanging the background; students discussing the responsibility of artist according to what they believe is morally right, to document their time, to protest, to reflect through their work the contemporary violent values of humanity and the world. Be it visual arts, literature or music.