In her fourth solo exhibition, “How Many Heartbeats in a Lifetime?” at Craig Krull Gallery, Los Angeles native Robin Mitchell meditates on the color wheel, exploring its subtleties and intricacies. The exhibition of gouache on paper embraces the vivid curiosity we had as children when discovering a color wheel for the first time. Watching a piece of paper spin while absorbing colors at random, the resulting unpredictable composition served as a source of fascination but moreover reflected the art of chance. With a steady hand, the artist paints concentric circles like a mandala, created by a series of lines separated by sheer millimeters. The composition is alive with motion, while the tie-dye patterns pull the eye in to examine the attention to detail. The texture created by the brush strokes makes the gouache resemble a 20th-century textile and transforms colors from a pigment lying dormant on a palette to a tangible source, reflective of the natural world. Once the viewer adjusts to the kaleidoscopic range of colors, recognize forms like blooming flowers and rays of sunshine begin to emerge.
The titles in “How Many Heartbeats in a Lifetime?” speak to a narrative of loss and beginning anew. In Tip Top (2014), distinctive dark lines extend from the center of the gouache-like rays of light. In a careful manipulation of the surface, Mitchell creates distinctive depth separating the color wheel, which is drenched in texture in contrast to any surrounding pattern. The marks made by the lines feel like a shadow gently kissing the surface. The tones assigned to Empathy (2015) are less vibrant and present an effect as if the paper were crumbled like a tissue and reopened. The composition vibrates with ripples as if soaked by tears or suspended in water. Passion Flower (2015) is characterized by pastel tones inspired by spring, a season when new life begins. Loose green brush strokes form the outline of flower petals juxtaposed with pink lines suggesting that new life can be born from loss.
Gouache on paper
24″ x 18″
Photo: courtesy Robin Mitchell and Craig Krull Gallery