The Works of Robert Combas Move From the Romantic to the Erotic
The paintings of French artist Robert Combas are excitingly direct and graphic. Like Gary Panter,
One work that recalls medieval European painting from 1991 shows imaginary royalty and pseudo-iconographic figures (a man with a cross for a body, a creature shaped like a pyramid, a half-nude
A painting from 1989 shows a young woman, nude except for stockings and a black belt around her midsection. She sits on a psychedelic, anthropomorphic ground of pink creatures and interwoven red lines. She glows blue, with bright lines radiating from her body. Her face here is reminiscent of similar techniques used by Haring and Another work from 1989 brings that imagery into the present day, setting the main figure against a city skyline. Juxtaposing images of contemporary liberality with ancient hedonism makes them timeless and utterly present.
Indeed, timelessness is one of Combas’s explicit themes in Bataille intemporelle (1988), which shows a romantic young man and woman surrounded by tightly packed cartoon vignettes of mayhem and anarchy. Peace (1989) uses similar composition, with a central peace sign surrounded by birds, licentious lovers, and beasts.
Combas says, “I like to leave traces and drips in my colour. I do not like the effects to be too clean, too uniform or too smooth.” Using bright colors, strong lines, manic energy, and charged figurative imagery, Combas always includes a sense of vitality and action, as well as romantic and erotic themes. The emotions in his work are at least as strong as his colors.