Shop the Show: Artist Robin Hextrum Reimagines the Still Life Tradition in the Age of the Anthropocene

Hextrum's solo exhibition, "Reimagining the Sublime," is on view at Denver's Abend Gallery.

Robin Hextrum, Flowers Growing in a New Climate (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.
Robin Hextrum, Flowers Growing in a New Climate (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

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What You Need to Know: Painter Robin Hextrum considers ideas of the “Feminine Sublime” in her new exhibition, “Reimagining the Sublime,” on view at Denver’s Abend Gallery. Her brightly colored botanicals and animals (horses, foxes, deer) appear staged against almost theatrical backgrounds, from acidic-colored clouds to icebergs. Hextrum, a Colorado native, sees these images in opposition to traditional notions of the sublime, in which humankind ultimately exerts its control and authority over nature. Instead, Hextrum’s strange oppositions reflect on “how our relationship to nature is ever-evolving, uncertain, and chaotic,” she said.

Why We Like It: Hextrum manages to breathe new life into the still life tradition. Her chromatically bold compositions juxtapose motifs of flora and fauna through the very timely lens of the climate crisis, imbuing the works with a certain uneasy weightiness. There are touches of ’90s graphic design aesthetic in the works too—imagine if a Dutch master collaborated with Lisa Frank. The results are captivating, and not exactly what one would expect,  

According to the Gallery: “Although uncertainty about the collective future is palpable in her paintings, the overarching themes of healing and transformation soothe the turbulent compositions. Hextrum believes that these paintings do not offer solutions or answers but instead allow their viewers to sit with and meditate on these feelings of uncertainty… Drawing heavily from Dutch still life masterpieces, many works embody a contemporary version of the vanitas theme, which is a reminder of our mortality.”

 

Robin Hextrum
Flowers Turning in the Sky (2021)
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Robin Hextrum, When Flowers Outgrow Trees (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery

Robin Hextrum, When Flowers Outgrow Trees (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

 

Robin Hextrum
Black Horse with Mandala (2021)
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Robin Hextrum, Black Horse with Mandala (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

Robin Hextrum, Black Horse with Mandala (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

 

Robin Hextrum
Tulips with Glacier (2021)
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Robin Hextrum, Tulips with Glacier (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

Robin Hextrum, Tulips with Glacier (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

 

Robin Hextrum
Leaping Horse on Purple Background (2021)
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Robin Hextrum, Leaping Horse on Purple Background (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

Robin Hextrum, Leaping Horse on Purple Background (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

 

Robin Hextrum
When Flowers Outgrow Trees (2021)
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Robin Hextrum, When Flowers Outgrow Trees (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

Robin Hextrum, When Flowers Outgrow Trees (2021). Courtesy of Abend Gallery.

Reimagining the Sublime” is on view at Denver’s Abend Gallery through September 4, 2021. 


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