Fueling flames, don’t worship ashes!
Robert Roest’s fourth series “Fueling flames, don’t worship ashes!” consists of large abstract paintings. The original images were digitally painted with fingers on the touchscreen. The files were then printed on a large format synthetic canvas, edited with spray paint and painted over with fingers, hands, and arms, as an action painter, but also as a counterpart to the ‘finger painting’ on the application.
The images have a harsh, aggressive visual language and evoke an atmosphere of anger, polarization, but also of pain and weakness. The images are intense, unreasonable and ugly, the spiky tribal tattoo elements anchor the work compositionally, but also try to impress. It is as if the physical way of painting – action painting – should conceal fear, pain, and weakness. The paintings are not just about themselves, they directed outwards; dealing punches at everyone who comes too close.
Roest is not interested in digital media as a goal, or because it would be contemporary and new. The drawing app from Samsung Notes is used as an expressive medium because of the (raw) directness, limitations of possibilities and its resistance. The program responds directly to the fingertips without the intervention of a brush, or in the case of the digital, a mouse. The fingertips are almost too large for the small screen of a smartphone to come to the screen. The unmanageable screen forces a struggle with the medium. Roest tries to bring the medium to its knees, to make it obey to his will.
After the digital files are printed in large format, Roest tackles the work for a second time. With large hand and arm gestures, the paint is rubbed into the canvas, sprayed, forced. In this phase, too, the canvas is an opponent that does not want to give in but ultimately has to surrender to the whims of his unreasonable maker. However, one could also understand it the other way around: The medium is in charge and forces the maker, wants to make the maker surrender and obey to its will. Who comes out of the fight as the victor is as unclear as it is irrelevant. The painter and his work (as an opponent) ultimately compete for the same thing. Let the image itself prevail.