David Robinson

by Tom Reaume August. 28, 2017 600 views

David Robinson is a still photographer who travelled, photographed and wrote. From his layered website, he had 6 books published. He briefly describes how each one came into being. I am holding Reflections. It was published in 1978 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in New York. The 127-page book reproduces 112 photographs. Ernst Hass, the photographer, supplied a short Foreword.

Robinson’s images are in color and display a painterly style. The best ones push you through the ordinary realism of still photographs that swallow you with too many recognizable details. Robinson does not provide perfect reflections of mountains and trees in a lake. They are much too ordinary to attract someone like Robinson, who likes to see more than the rest of us. Robinson, That led me to a series of reflection photographs in water and windows and other surfaces that offered provocative juxtapositions, abstract compositions and layered imagery. The reflection photographs I took were available to anyone inclined or trained to see them; I used no special equipment or techniques, just my eye. That too became an important goal for me, using photography to stimulate people to see what they otherwise might overlook. Reflection, transparency, juxtaposition and sequencing have remained constant hallmarks of my photography. All can be employed to create layers of meaning that move the photograph beyond the obvious or immediate. Abstraction requires interpretation, not just recognition; I like photographs that ask questions and that remain open to debate. .... it is color’s emotional quality that draws me to it, not its presumed reality. For me, color facilitates abstraction.

His best images, in my opinion, are those difficult to decipher – with parts blurry, with no apparent top or bottom, and wavy, the latter resulting from the natural motion of water. With this in mind, if I was his editor, I would have kept the best 100 images and eliminated 12 with parts too easily recognized. Mysterious images are what distinguished this book. At the same time, as painterly as they appear, they are Still Photographs of something in front of his camera’s lens. They provide only a sense of abstraction. Robinson explains some collectors prefer to hang a certain image upside down, and ask him to sign the print with that in mind. His image titles, in groups, are presented at the back of his book, with additional information. The front cover image, Red Boat, Burano, (page 97) was well chosen, leaving much to the imagination and enough form and color to invite you in.

Aside from this book on reflections, David Robinson did a series of double-exposure images in homage to the abstract painter Jackson Pollock. These long thin images are filled with intrigue, and keep the eye moving without settling on any particular spot for long, much like viewing a Pollock drip painting. Visit davidrobinsonphotos.com for a life well lived.

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