Robert Wells

Color, contrast, and textural intricacy of line are the components in all my oil on linen paintings. In my most recent series entitled Moleculii, I am celebrating the complexity and grandeur of the universe. I paint cell-like or molecular forms that are intricate and minute…forms which I imagine vibrating and moving through the universe. My moleculii color shapes are the metaphor for the world seen as particulate aspects moving through space. My larger circular passages of color and light express the infinite–a universe of no beginning and no end.

I cannot and do not paint without listening to classical music. Music is my muse. I see the color evoked by the musical tones and variations in specific musical passages, but I do not represent the visual ideas intended by the composer. While a contemporary score such as Spirit Garden by Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu provided the emotional color response for my most recent painting of the same title, I do not paint the composers specific ideas or deliberate subject matter. My intention is to capture the inner or molecular textural structure of a fantastic space garden, one determined by the color shapes I hear and thus see in listening to certain passages in the music. My synaesthetic response to color-sounds is an emotional one and forms the basis of all my paintings. I have always been regarded as a colorist, and my work as painterly. The range of colors I apply to my paintings is certainly testimony to the range of color sounds in orchestral musical compositions. The rhythms and movement of music form the basis of my interplay of color-shapes with spatial openings.

The very act of painting with color, line, space and shapes has a direction and intent of its own once I have emotionally responded to music. In all my work, I combine a discipline of drawing with the brush with a visual expression of the musical passage. A painting begins with the musical color-shapes in a conscious process involving the discipline of drawing the color-shapes but ends with an unconscious process of colors interacting in space to create the metaphoric movement of the universe. My paintings seem to speak for themselves at a certain point in my process: the color-shapes, movement and line take over the canvas in ways I cannot begin to verbally explain.

Born in Boston, I began my Art studies as a child in the Boston Museum of Art classes, and after completing studies at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I won a Joslin European Travel Fellowship in print-making. Studies in Art Education at Tufts University, followed by graduate study at Boston University culminated in 30 years of teaching Art History at Northeastern University, and subsequently at New York University, and at the University of New Mexico. My interest in the vast body of Art comprising Art History has provided me with ongoging inspiration and a sense of awe. In all my teaching I stressed the need for seeing Art in museums and exhibitions, and the importance of making Art. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to become an artist. As a mid-career, mature artist, I consider Art and art-creation to be the most important part of my life.

I have always felt that looking at Art is a subjective experience–that the viewer actually creates what he or she sees in a work of art. I invite my viewers to enter my painting, to experience the movement of color-shapes and in so doing create his/her own painting. It is my belief that we have been inundated with visual experiences and become accustomed to not really seeing, and as American composer, Morton Feldman has said, that we are often hearing but are not listening. Currently, given various media, we are exposed to so many visuals, that we are looking but not really seeing. I hope my work provides an emotional and visual challenge to the viewer, that he or she might see new forms and shapes in an attempt to discard habitual or conditioned ways of seeing .

Robert is represented by InArt: