Robert Fry’s Drawing Room Study series evolved from a group of etchings he made in 2005. For the etchings Fry drew himself drawing a model. Fry reworks these compositions in his paintings: In Drawing Room Study 7, two figures are positioned to mirror each other, bound by the strange intimacy of their relationship. Fry renders this scene as a site riddled with contradictions and tension. Engulfed in a calming purple-ish field, the bodies are made to seem visceral and crude, suggesting both a physical and emotional energy. “I try to create a relationship between the physicality of materials and psychological terrains,” Fry says. “I’m interested in conveying a slightly brutal picture of the human condition.”
“Etching can involve a vast amount of precision and technique and has its constraints. The immediacy of painting is very different; these works express a kind of freeness and looseness in the way paint is applied. They attempt to embrace the versatility and multitude of ways in which paint can be used. I’m fascinated by the spectrum of paint as a medium, its vastness and its complexity. Drawing Room Study 4 repeatedly engages different materials within the composition. It attempts to achieve meaning through their varied application, and create relationships between the properties of the materials that construct the work. The Drawing Room Study series are equally concerned with the way they’re made as the themes the pictures explore; it’s perhaps indistinguishable as to which is of greater importance.”
Fry’s interest in psychology is explored through both his process and subjects. By working from etchings, the origin of Fry’s images is already an inverted field; a metaphorical subconscious terrain which Fry then explores and traverses though paint. This idea of paralleled existence, a state between internal and external experience, is envisioned through his use of the doubled figure. Drawing Room Study 5 presents a figure and its equal reflection. Fry renders these with a frenetic physicality, as if their bodies are unfixed or unravelling, a sensation that’s heightened by the contrasting geometric framing. Along the bottom of the canvas the number 8 is repeated in obsessive scrawl, a symbol of perfection and infinity, a tantalising allusion to a tendency to obsession, which at times has both tormented and driven his work.
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