In his 5th series “Images for deep relaxation and physiological hygiene”, Robert Roest researches the relationships between the image, the viewer, time, and spirituality. The paintings have their origin in the designs of air fresheners and hour-long meditation or relaxation videos of ocean sounds on YouTube. Roest reduced the original designs to a minimum. Stripped of fonts, brands, and manuals, they appeal to an ideal atmosphere of space, clarity and freshness. A consumerist aesthetic ambivalently links a profane everydayness with the ideal of sacrality.
The series is also a contemporary continuation and re-evaluation of the spiritual function of art as understood in earlier, almost forgotten, times. The art work was ‘functional because it was understood to contain ‘magical’ power – the work of art as a materialized experience of an invisible immaterial manifestation. Of course, it is the spectator who unconsciously projects that power, derives meaning from its reflection. This is what Roest invites the contemporary viewer to do in relation to his work.
Roest Notices that, in modern times, the artwork has been demystified, its original function lost, or misunderstood. Who, Roest, wonders, better understands a Byzantine icon, or a traditional Dogon statue from Mali? An art historian of stature, or an orthodox believer and a member of the Dogon tribe?