Robert Pokorny

Born in Merced, California

 Lives and Works in Long Beach, California, USA


Primitives, Derivations and Formations


With a strong sensibility and awareness to intuition and exactness, Pokorny’s series ‘Primitives’ and ‘Derivations’ can share a common visual alignment with the very long tradition of Chinese Painting and the Calligraphic Arts. Much like Calligraphy (translated from the ancient Greek as ‘Beautiful Writing’) Pokorny’s style in this series of works is focused on the use of ‘line’ to describe and initiate feeling. The principles associated with Chinese Painting (perhaps best exemplified in the ‘Six Principles of Chinese Painting’ established by the 5th century writer and historian Xie He) can be argued to still be present in the approach and somewhat unconscious philosophy of Pokorny’s art - meaning that there is still a focus on vitality in his work, as well as a concentration on ‘brush method’, depiction, and application.


But, to only put Pokorny’s ideas and method into a historical context can be a mistake. Pokorny’s work is also very contemporary in his challenge to present a commentary (however subtle) that is opposed to the superficial and mentally vapid world of what is commonly known as ‘Celebrity Culture’. Though, at first sight, Pokorny’s work might appear to be simple or delicate, Pokorny’s series ‘Formations’ instead attempts to describe a world (subject) that is complex and multifarious. In that regard, each and every one of Pokorny’s movements, or brushstrokes, is packed with a foresight and intention based on the exploration of the thing observed. Pokorny strives to take a complicated visual world and with a precise and intuitive flourish establish a honed version of reality.


With that effort in mind, Pokorny’s work finds good company with artists in the Western tradition ranging from Matisse and Picasso to Philip Guston and George Condo. If Pokorny’s work is rooted technically in a precise manner associated with traditional Chinese methods of depiction, his ideas are then aligned with a thoroughly contemporary belief that through re-organizing the modern world through a kind of abstraction, we (the viewer) can see that same world in a new and refreshing way that helps us better understand what at first might not be so easily understood in contemporary culture, with it’s emphasis on ‘surface’. In short, Pokorny’s ‘light touch’ with the art he creates through colour, form, and line belies a deeper sensibility and curiosity inherent in the search for meaning.