On the Cover: Robert Otto Epstein | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It
Favorite

On the Cover: Robert Otto Epstein 

click to enlarge Robert Otto Epstein, Untitled Zigzag 2016, acrylic on hand-gridded panel - PHOTO BY: JASON MANDELLA
  • Photo by: Jason Mandella
  • Robert Otto Epstein, Untitled Zigzag 2016, acrylic on hand-gridded panel

Robert Otto Epstein didn't plan to be an artist. He studied political science at the University of Pittsburgh and later law in the UK. "I imagined myself becoming a writer. I went through a creative existential crisis and got tired of not being able to produce through writing so I stumbled upon visual art," says Epstein.

He arrived at the decision to paint patterns, like becoming an artist, by happenstance. After ordering a vintage knitting kit from eBay on a whim, he became entranced with the gridded instructions. Epstein then started to create his own grids. He plans all of his grid-based works out in advance, before he draws or paints any pattern. Using his bare hands and Photoshop, Epstein lays out the pattern. "I draw out a grid, or in this case, zigzags. It's an abstract extension of my writing. The line is the act of writing and the color put in is the content or whatever I am trying to communicate," Epstein says. When he paints, he uses no tape, in order to give his work a more organic feeling.

When he wants to oppose his pragmatic nature, Epstein employs chance. Instead of strategically planning the grids, Epstein will roll two dice. The number on one die will tell him where to paint, and the other number what color to use. "I am inclined towards planning things out," he says. "This was a challenge to myself to be okay without knowing in advance."

The zigzag paintings, like the one on this month's cover, are a combination of both his methods. Epstein starts by drawing a shape on the spot, and lets instinct lead him where to go next. "I'm not overly careful of where my pencil line goes. Once I come up with the basic constellation, I meet the dots in a very obtuse shape. Then I kind of repeat it on the inside and the outside." Like the chance paintings, the zigzags paintings were started as a way for Epstein to test his capabilities.

He uses the same eight colors in both his grids and his zigzags—vivid `80s hues, similar to 8-bit video game graphics. When he wishes to paint portraits, he varies his color palate, but only slightly.

For Epstein, there is also a nostalgic component to his work. "My father is a retired mechanical engineer; he would bring home drafts of whatever he was working on and I used to pretend to make my own drafts of anything. Pretending I was doing something important, which I am still kind of doing now. Making lines, making marks."

Robert Otto Epstein's work is on display through September 15 at Vassar College's James W. Palmer Gallery as part of the group show "If Color Could Kill: New Paintings from New York City." A reception for the artists will be held on Tuesday, September 6, from 5 to 7pm.

Speaking of...

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Hudson Valley Events

submit event

Common Ground

Oct. 6-Nov. 13 — A photography exhibition by Ellen Lynch. The exhibit pairs separate photographs of...

View all of today's events

Latest in Visual Art

  • The Photography of Fred Cray
  • The Photography of Fred Cray

    • Oct 1, 2017
  • An Exhibit of Helen Frankenthaler's Prints
  • An Exhibit of Helen Frankenthaler's Prints

    Over 25 prints by the pioneering abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler are on display at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
    • Oct 1, 2017
  • Olana, with The Ancram Opera House, presents an original play in landscape
  • Olana, with The Ancram Opera House, presents an original play in landscape

    Performing Olana: Frederic Church living his art Olana and Ancram Opera House collaborate to produce a theater performance specifically created to take place in the landscape of the historic site. The dramatic work draws inspiration from Frederic Church’s paintings, letters, family life and the celebrated landscape and is presented as an immersive theater experience in which performer and audience journey together into Church's art. FRI 6PM | SAT 2PM, 4PM, 6PM | SUN 2PM, 4PM, 6PM Member: $10, Non-Member: $15, Family (up to 5): $40
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • More »

Related to Visual Art

More by Leah Habib

  • 6 Short Book Reviews: October 2017

    This month’s selection of books offer you the chance to learn about a World War II hero, a life-changing summer camp, and the racial struggle in America.
    • Oct 1, 2017
  • Short Takes: September 2017

    Short book reviews.
    • Sep 1, 2017
  • Eat Drink 28 | Gourmet Row Grand Opening

    Eat Drink 28 is a gourmet culinary collection on Route 28 made up of Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go, Cheese Louise, The Wine Hutch, La Bella Pasta, Hookline Fish Co. and KBBK Kombucha.
    • Aug 2, 2017
  • More »

Hudson Valley Tweets