Robert Rauschenberg, that towering giant of the post war American art scene, returns to Cork Street with a solo show at Waddington Galleries (6 June-6 July). Entitled “Short stories” these are 10 large scale works (2 x 1.5m) which continue his use of so called “transfer paintings”. These are unique works, not multiples (for sale at US$250,000)—in effect photographic collages (left, “ Page 21, Paragraph 3”, 2001). The images are transferred onto polylaminate surfaces using vegetable dye and acrylic pigment. The effect produces a soft-focus painterly image. Here are the familiar American icons, the empty parking lot, billboards, highway signs, dilapidated buildings and graffiti-stained walls, yet these are juxtaposed with sun-drenched bikini-clad girls, waving palms birds, the ocean and, surprisingly, a Cézanne still-life on a table. There is a strong narrative element but the gallery audience is to supply it. Each painting has a page and paragraph number, “Think of them as seeds”, writes the enigmatic Rauschenberg, “without edit, the stories can change as time does.”
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Robert Rauschenberg: Short stories'