Return of the Repressed
You’ve seen Robert Yarber’s works before, even if you’ve never seen them. Figures falling, flying, flailing in the night, perhaps due to some chemically induced apraxia (intentional or otherwise), living in the best or worst moment of some bad decision. Yarber has pioneered a language of levitation where leaving the ground is a leap of faith without compass, his characters suspended within a transcendental aspic. The simultaneous flood of immediacy and nostalgia is disorienting and thrilling—his paintings are a cutting visual counterpoint to critical theory, anchored through dramaturgical events and eclipses of subjecthood. Backlit and reflecting a palette at once surreal and familiar, his forms summon those of Tintoretto on an acid trip, or maybe Titian on ecstasy. While his forbearers looked up to the heavens, however, Yarber’s is the iridescent chiaroscuro of nightlife long past the witching hour.
And those skylines! You’ve been there, you swear. Is it Los Angeles? Vegas? Dallas? Long Island? In an allusion to the harsh, super-hot chromaticism of technicolor film from the mid-20th century, Yarber’s stark, fluorescent colors dramatically emerge from their largely black backgrounds, lurid neons piercing the darkness. The gaudy design of the motels, the swimming pools, the diners, the movie theaters, the coastlines in the work is distinctly American, yet could exist nearly anywhere and anytime in the country over the past fifty years. “The mind is a suspicious character,” they seem to whisper. Robert Yarber: Return of the Repressed represents the most meaningful conversation you’ve had while blackout drunk, the best sex you’ve almost had, and every unforgettable moment that you can’t quite remember.