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Bobby Campbell: Action Figures II

October 8, 2013

Action Figures II, a new exhibition of work by Bobby Campbell (MFA 2006) opens at Lawrence Technological University’s LEVEL Gallery in Southfield, MI with a reception on Thursday, Oct. 10, 5 - 7 pm.

I make bodies. The bodies I shape are bastards - pioneers and priests, thieves and tinkers, hotrodders and horse-riders. These image alloys catalogue the living and the dead - spiders and tigers, bicycles and banjos, foxes and fires, high-rises and sports cars. My work recasts the overwhelming visual stimulus of postmodernity into a method for mixing and matching new designed bodies.
These intellectual origins in my images are not held sacred or pure, however. The contemporary artist inherits the freedom to take apart, mutate, blend, and otherwise change one’s culture and context. In the seedbed of my youth also grew the altered physiques of giant robots, insect warriors, holographic priests and atomic angels. These fantastic creations sprang from television, movies and comics, reflective of a modern culture gaining technological prowess without corresponding control. The figures in my work are simultaneously rough-edged explorers and machined robotic archetypes.
Those figure-objects overlap and rapidly slide to different scales and angles. Dynamic, even hard, shifts in composition, color and density are central to the works’ visual and emotional core. The images not only present multiple sides of what appear to be continuous objects and systems, but also constantly shift the scale and orientation of the elements within a composition.
Hand-drawn and painted forms also echo the angularity, density and precision of computer imagery. I utilize my formal and conceptual motivations consistently across different media - images may be created on paper with casein paint, or on plastic with an airbrush, or on a panel with oil paints, or on the computer with a stylus and software.

Drawing on our steadily-increasing power to create “realistic fakes,” I tap into the human desire to be someone else, someone somehow better. With basic human needs seemingly met in First World countries, the restless turn to the improvements of plastic miracles, turning pop stars into computer sprites. Advertisements and popular entertainments are given over to global-commerce-friendly fresh faces : a look which is literally neither here nor there. The improvised structures in my paintings evoke transformed figures even in a very transformed final stage. The smoothing and reshaping of planes and piercing and inscribing of surfaces springs in part from a culture of continuously reimagining and reinventing oneself as someone better. These cultural currents are digested in my work and resurface as twilight bodies : partly visible, shifting shapes to meet the surroundings.

Bobby Campbell: Action Figures II
Opening Reception: Thursday, Oct. 10, 5 - 7 pm
Exhibition Dates: Oct. 10, 2013 - Jan. 1, 2014
LEVEL Gallery at the College of Architecture and Design
Lawrence Technological University, 1000 West Ten Mile Road • Southfield, MI 48075-1058

 

Bobby Campbell: Action Figures II