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Allow me introduce you to... - a solo project for Upstairs @ Bamboo [2021]

Allow Me To Introduce You To… is a new solo show from Jozi expressionist painter Robyn Field, featuring her distinctive use of colour, pattern and mark making. The exhibition is a presentation of large canvasses that have evolved over a period of five years to create a series of emotive narratives told via rich overlapping textures of charcoal, acrylic and Indian ink.

Mediums and technique


Field’s bold colour choices shock at first glance, then pull the viewer into a complex story featuring rich overlapping textures of charcoal, acrylic and Indian ink. Beneath the surface live repeat washes of colour, often applied over many months, including ink run and splattered in a painstaking, guided process. On a technical level, this is one of the reasons why Field’s art is so distinctive. She paints according to her own unique process, and it shows.


One of the most interesting aspects of Field’s technical approach, which features heavy use of gold and silver, is the way each piece of art changes through the day, influenced by the surrounding combination of natural and artificial light. Her paintings shine and shimmer in different ways according to different light conditions, creating an always-evolving visual experience.




At the centre of many of Field’s works are figurative characters inspired by ancient tribal art. These purposefully simplistic figures feature a lot of emotion and recur across her different pieces. She describes them as her own, custom-grown archetypes: a set of core characters she’s developing that allow her tell nuanced stories and examine complex ideas. They range from characters reflecting the issues of current times (including Aaliyah, The Trustafarian, the Three Headed Penis, The Occupier) to more abstract conceptions (The Artist, The Addict, Holding on So Tight, The Watchers). Field deploys these archetypes across the body of work, an approach which allows her to roam across a range of different themes and topics.

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Postcards to the future - a body of work produced for The Art Room [2020]

The Postcards to the Future Series follows on from the Postcards from the Past Series I did for Turbine in 2019. I wanted to repeat the creative process, which I found thoroughly engrossing.


For this series I decided to look at current issues. I feel the language of the modern corporate life is very similar to the language of colonial expansion, and the social impact seems to be very similar, with global profit and growth often resulting in decay and damage at the regional level. The series thus focuses on the complex language and imagery of mining, fracking, the extinction rebellion, climate change and water.


In addition, I have referred to imagery of algorithms, technology, the growth of CCTV cameras and surveillance society, along with corporate general ideas of “sustainability'. I also gathered images of the indigent people discarded by various mining and corporate industries as they move though poverty stricken areas in the search for resources.

In terms of materials and technique most of my work is created using charcoal, acrylic and ink. The pieces are done in washes and layers... this technique fits well with my own ideas of the world - there are always multiple layers and forces at play in any environment, and I like the fact that the overlapping layers and visual ‘confusion’ in my pieces mimics this complexity.

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Postcards from the past - a body of work produced for Turbine Art Fair (2019)

In 2018 I inherited a set of family postcards dated from the turn of the 19th century and running through the First World War period. The language and imagery used on the postcards reflected the final phases the British empire. Notions of the civilising mission of colonialism (including remote, empty land and exotic, still-to-be enlightened indigenous people) radiate through the communication between family members, which itself ranges from the logistical to the religious.


Intrigued with how easily time reveals the hidden dimensions within what was essentially conventional family communication for the period, I toyed with the central motifs of these postcards to create a body of work that imagines a slightly alternate history – a place in time where my ancestors spoke to each other not of an empty land, but instead recognised the reality of an African civilization steeped in culture, art, language and agriculture.


The smaller works engage the spoken and unspoken colonial language, imagery and ideologies of the time, including popular notions of there being “only sand and empty land”, populated by mere “uncivilised savages”. The pieces also refer to the conveniently ignored reality among colonists that both the local land and the people were resources used for financial gain. The work thus seeks to reflect the richness of the African culture of the time, while also referencing harsh realities like gun taxes and dog taxes, which were used to force people off their land and into positions of revenue generating servitude.


With the larger works I gave myself complete freedom, essentially creating visual impressions of the ideas circulating in my mind. The pieces refer to all of the ideas described above, but in a more instinctive and fluid way.

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