C’ville Art Blog: The quirky and fantastical universe of Rob Browning

Detail of a painting by Rob Browning. Detail of a painting by Rob Browning.

Rob Browning‘s paintings currently on display at PVCC‘s South Gallery is a less coherent series than his recent show at Warm Springs Gallery. However I find the variety of painting executions to be much more appealing.

The content of this show is strange and disjointed. Some images like Mermaid are eerie and surreal. Others are nostalgic and meditative, others still are rebellious and youthful. The title of the show is “Safe as Houses” and Browning’s paintings seems to echo this thought. We are given short glimpses into the comfort zones of several disparate inhabitants of Browning’s universe. The most familiar and relatable image is a slowly-drifting zeppelin woman, almost asleep. We have the serene sense of safety in the warm light of her cabin room.

Browning’s work continues to suffer from minute technical issues, in particular his edges, which are abrupt and jarring, and resolution issues throughout his canvases. His painting, Mermaid, is a wonderful small glazed portrait of a haunting, large-eyed woman. Behind her is a bright blue sky, a distant horizon line, and a small tail emerging over her left shoulder. The lack of resolution in the mermaid tail is a little disappointing though it lends itself to the quirky vibe of the image. Other resolution issues spot this painting as well, particularly on the strangely flat, un-modeled teeth. Despite these moments, the show as a whole exhibits broad exploration of paint applications, from a softly glazed telephone to a matte finished smoking suburban girl.

Browing’s work is caught between illustration and painting. There are moments I see a distinct love of the medium, and others I see graphic labors undertaken. If he were to push in either direction his work could be impeccable.

His current series is on display with Kaki Dimock’s equally intriguing illustrative works in PVCC’s South Gallery.

~ Aaron Miller and Rose Guterbock