xecuted with a precision as dispassionate as it is exact, Walter Robinson’s “figure studies” imitate the banal images found in clothing catalogues. The subjects of these paintings range from red rain boots, boxy tees, and shorts from Lands’ End to jolly models clad in floral tankinis, spirited sundresses, and cardigans.
Robinson’s disinterested canvases successfully reveal the humor and awkwardness of the photos on which they’re based. In Lands’ End Friends and Family (2014), five “friends” clad in knit gloves and hats, pillowy winter jackets, and patterned shirts huddle together like high-school pals on an annual ski trip. With a contrived candidness and familiarity, they laugh and embrace so that the camera catches them at their most flattering angles.
In Target D-Signed and Shaun White (2014), a group of teen boys with Justin Bieber haircuts are decked out in graphic tees, busy button-downs, and board shorts. Standing self-consciously at a careful distance from one another, the boys show a surprising lack of silliness and fraternal closeness.
One small image, Untitled (Lands’ End Odalisque), 2014, proved to be the jewel of this show. Reclining in her swimwear and sun hat, the subject stood apart from the rest in the show for its loveliness and candor—an Ingres beauty for the Sunday coupon section.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 98.