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rob tokarz

Painting is a synthesis between the subject matter, the image in the painter’s mind, and the medium. For me, it is a conflict between capturing a personality, the chaos of line, and the tranquility of color and pattern. Born in Chicago, I was raised by blue- collar Polish immigrant parents who pushed me to work harder and longer on any of the pursuits that I showed an enthusiasm for. In that, I developed an interest in art-making at an early age. As a child I grew up copying the people in the world around me on any surface I could find. My fascination with the figure and portrait deepened as my interests broadened beyond the media pencil and pen. By my late teens I was painting on canvas, preferring acrylic for its immediacy, allowing me to complete works in a single session.

A move to Los Angeles for an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts lead to a two-fold career in film and painting. The combination of film’s organized chaos and Southern California’s sunny disposition focused my hand, honed an energetic approach to technique, and notably brightened my palette. In line with developing a cinematic instinct, the focus on working within a frame helped me to deepen the relationship with the subject’s I captured. 

Heavily influenced by Schiele, Picasso, Matisse, and graphic comic books, each work became an attempt to resolve my own impatient nature and obsessions. The figure, and particularly the female figure, had always been a source of fascination and eagerness. At once working to extend the art history motif of “the nude”, I work for each piece to confront the viewer with as much of the feminine tenacity, empathy, and grace that it can. It is my constant approach to a transitory target, yet one of boundless genius.

My work continues to be an attack of line, color, pattern, and abstraction. Working in watercolor, ink, and acrylic, I continue to look for something deeper than a likeness to a spark of personality and the inherent power of my subject. The small size of my work aims to create an intimacy as I continue to afford the faces and figures a moment in time to inspire, arouse, and affect the viewer; a chance for you to peer deeper into my work and see them for their brashness and subtleties alike.