Feature Articles

August 2013

New Elements Gallery in Wilmington, NC, Features Works by Robert Irwin

New Elements Gallery in Wilmington, NC, is presenting Good as Gold; 50 Years of Painting by Robert Irwin, on view through Aug. 20, 2013.

A retrospective look at North Carolina artist Robert Irwin, the exhibition is comprised of works throughout the span of his years as a painter. Considered one of the leading regional artists in the state, Irwin offers a style and vision that is uniquely his own. Frequently selecting strong, vibrant colors applied with aggressive brush strokes, his work offers an energy and immediacy that is forceful and dynamic.

Paradoxically, these same pieces can suggest a solitude and introspection that demands contemplation. He distills his environment to its essence; superfluous information is eliminated. Pencil drawings lay out the foundation of his composition, applied over acrylic washes of color, and often the viewer is allowed to enjoy the structural elements of his painting.

“I am a painter’s painter,” Irwin once remarked. When asked to elaborate, he explained that other artists who painted appreciated his technique. It was his choice to alternate between his controlled “left brain” pieces and the loose, abstracted “right brain” paintings, though favoring the latter. Irwin’s work can be found in many private and corporate collections, including Glaxo, MCI, News & Observer Publishing Company, SAS Institute and Paul Stookie of Peter Paul & Mary.

The piece used on the show’s invitation, Athens Train Station II is actually a companion painting to the cover for Irwin’s book 40 Years, published in 2004. Several works in the exhibition were also included in the book, a beautiful chronicle of the artist’s depth and strength as a painter as well as a “no holds barred” autobiography. Subjects range from architectural studies, particularly the industrial side of Raleigh, NC, and coastal imagery influenced by his years living in Beaufort, NC.

Irwin has enjoyed a varied career in many creative disciplines in addition to painting. These include photographer, illustrator; teacher, museum designer, furniture manufacturer, sculptor and author. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and a MA from NC State in 1977. There he studied under Joe Cox and George Bireline, both who became lifelong friends and mentors to Irwin. The artist learned to compensate for his problems with ADD (attention deficit disorder), though he was not diagnosed until he the age of forty.

Now approaching seventy, Irwin is fighting an even more formidable battle with Parkinson’s. He was officially diagnosed three years ago, but doctors suggest he has probably been afflicted for a significantly longer period of time, perhaps as long as fifteen years. Irwin was forced to retire from painting, but did not become inactive. He has been a cycling trainer and coach for the Marine Corp’s Wounded Warrior project since 2008, first at Camp Lejeune and more recently at Quantico.

Irwin has also participated in numerous Road 2 Recovery rallies, a non-profit organization also assisting recovering active duty service members and veterans with mental and physical rehabilitation while raising awareness for these amazing men and women. Just as the publication of 40 Years was a thank you to his mentors and a way of paying forward those following him, Irwin’s work with Wounded Warriors and Road 2 Recovery shows his selfless desire to help others, continuing his lifelong commitment to give back.

New Elements Gallery, now celebrating 28 years, is located on Princess Street in historic downtown Wilmington. Acknowledged as one of Wilmington’s premier art and craft galleries, New Elements offers a wide variety of work by regional and nationally recognized artists. Located in historic downtown Wilmington since 1985, New Elements Gallery features original paintings and prints, as well as sculpture, contemporary craft, jewelry, and custom framing.

New Elements Gallery is proud to represent those artists that consistently produce high quality work, and takes pride in the solid relationships that are established between artist and gallery. We exhibit work by various gallery artists on a rotational basis March through November, often gaining much attention from area press.

For further information check our NC Commercial Gallery listings, call the gallery at 910/343-8997 or visit (www.newelementsgallery.com).

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