Robyn Rich

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Art

Expressive Eyes Painted by Robyn Rich Peek Out from Vintage Tins

December 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of multiple miniature eye paintings in tins with a hand painting one

All images courtesy of Beinart Gallery, shared with permission

What does it mean to see? To be seen? Artist Robyn Rich (previously) examines these questions in her practice as she paints realistic eyes that peer out from vintage tins and small vessels. The tiny works harness physical particularities to relay the emotions and idiosyncrasies of the subject, whether through thick brows, wrinkles, or mascaraed lashes that frame the delicate organs. Intimate and unsettling when displayed in large collections, the miniature pieces explore various aspects of the gaze and perspective and ask who is watching whom.

Rich’s solo show Optics is on view through December 23 at Beinart Gallery in Melbourne. Find more of her work on Instagram.

 

A photo of multiple miniature eye paintings on spoons

A photo of multiple miniature eye paintings in a tray

A photo of a miniature eye painting in a tin

A photo of a miniature eye painting in a tin

A photo of a miniature eye painting in a tin

A photo of a miniature eye painting in a tin

A photo of multiple miniature eye paintings in tins with a hand painting one

 

 

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Art

Single Eyes Gaze Out of Antique Cutlery, Tins, and Other Objects in Miniature Paintings by Robyn Rich

June 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Robyn Rich, shared with permission

The Georgian era saw the rise in a jewelry trend that’s equally sentimental and peculiar: to remember spouses who had died or to honor clandestine affairs without revealing anyone’s identity, people would commission tiny renderings of a person’s eye to be painted on broaches, rings, and other accessories they could carry with them. Similar to a lock of hair or portrait hidden in a locket, the abstracted feature was anonymous and indiscernible to most but deeply personal to the wearer.

Robyn Rich evokes this centuries-old fad with a substantial body of work that nestles minuscule oil paintings into cutlery, tins, and other antique vessels. “With a love of reusing and recycling, the found objects I use give a simple and often nostalgic canvas, which offers little distraction, allowing the beauty of the eye to be the focus,” she says. “These objects that we use every day are often taken for granted, overlooked, and forgotten, but in my work, they have another life and help tell a story.”

Whether centered on the eyes, nose, or lips, each realistic snippet conveys a wide range of human emotions—the expressive works capture everything from surprise and worry to contentment—through a single, isolated feature. “I paint friends, total strangers, and the eyes from painted portraits from the past. Each eye I paint becomes a little part of me,” the Frankston, Australia-based artist says.

Alongside her ongoing series of works on domestic objects, Rich is currently collaborating with designer Kelty Pelechytik on a collection of custom wearables. She also has an upcoming solo show at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne. Titled I See You, the exhibition is the culmination of a call Rich put out in 2019 for women and female-identifying people to share their portraits and stories with her, resulting in more than 100 pieces that will be on view this October. Until then, find an extensive archive of her miniatures on Instagram.