Thursday, April 3, 2008

Yuri Schwebler?

Mini Interview with Rob Chester


UC: Your recent work contains elements of 70's fashion photography, eastern block graphic design, Soviet and Moorish architecture co-mingled, and a strong sense of decay and alienation exists throughout. Can you tell me how these elements came about in your work?

RC: Three years ago, I was living in Uzbekistan and traveling Central Asia, experiencing places where cultures have been mixing since ancient times. Moda: Desolation Chic draws from the cross-culturalism in that part of the world. I saw elements of past and present, decay and grandeur, existing together and incorporated into a surreal setting. The people display stoicism in the face of change; civilizations rise and decline but people go on, life endures.

To embody these concepts in my new work, I pulled from drawings, photos, and found media collected during my travels. The printed material consists of old currency, newspaper, and a 1972 Soviet fashion magazine. Each element adds a layer to the story: They tell of the past and of the future as globalism and the increasing speed of change leave people alienated in the landscape.

UC: Your use of text in your compositions is quite assertive. Can you tell me a little about that?

I first came to use text in my images by way of comic books. I started making comics when I was a kid and continue today. Mixing words and images is a potent form of communication. I use it in my images to convey a meaning or to simply draw a viewer into the composition and hold their attention. I find that even a sentence or word fragment adds new dimensions as it causes the audience to formulate their own connections.

For much of the type in Moda, I experimented with various custom-made model decals.

UC: Some of your works are dark and moody, still others contain bold, electric, sometimes glowing color. How do you choose color and what do those choices mean to each respective composition?

I usually focus on a single color in my subject, and build the scheme from there. I start with a neutral base mixed from the primaries and white and add unmixed color to that in order to draw out the hues I'm looking for. I use the same neutral as the base for all the colors in a single work or series, giving them a unified look.

I've always been going for an emotional atmosphere in my work. I used to think I had to use dark colors to get at this, but later discovered that bright color adds an unexpected depth to the emotion. I like how it conveys lightness even while the overall atmosphere may be ominous. I think that mirrors true emotions, which are often not as simple as black and white.

UC: Thanks Rob

Rob Chester was born in Independence, Missouri in 1978. His mother is an artist and educator and has encouraged his creativity since he can remember. During his undergrad he studied painting for a semester in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and graduated in 2001 with a BFA in Studio Art from The University of Missouri Central. After living as an active artist in Kansas City, he joined the Peace Corps with which he taught and explored Asia for two years. After returning to The States he relocated to Washington DC, where he maintains his life as an artist. Rob has been represented in numerous galleries and juried exhibitions across the United States and abroad.

To learn more about Rob Chester's artwork see: