"Awakening" by Robert Nelson
Museum of Art and History, Lancaster
Opening Reception; August 8th, 4-6 pm
on view through September 30th, 2018
MOAH is located at:
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, CA 93534
Tuesday-Sunday 11-6 PM
Extended Hours Thursday 11AM-8 PM
Robert Nelson is encouraging viewers’ Awakening in his new exhibition, a part of The Robot Show at the Museum of Art and History opening this August.
Using a vivid palette, mixing pop and surrealist styles, Nelson juxtaposes images that play with deep, edgy ideas of technology. The artist poses the question as to whether the ease of technology use will lead to great good or great evil, and wonders whether in the end, technology will destroy us or save us.
“Awakening for us is an ongoing, never-ending process,” Nelson explains. “What of our creations? Is the capacity there for an awakening, and if so, what does that mean? Will it be in our image or from their own design?”
In this series, he posits that an awakening for our technological creations could result in a transcendence that will surpass what human beings can obtain. For the artist, humanity is not necessarily the end goal of evolution.
Posing these questions, Nelson uses images taken from the Renaissance era, while employing a retro-future imagery, leading viewers to explore the compression of time as well as the potent potential of technology.
Throughout Awakening, Nelson’s vibrant colors and delicate, detailed compositions lend themselves to an intimate contemplation of provocative questions the artist poses. “Why would these beings be like us in any way? We could merely be a step in the evolution to create this artificial intelligence and allowing it to awaken.”
In “Lullabye Before the Storm,” Nelson combines images of a Renaissance woman cradling a robot child, with that of a ginger-colored cat staring out at the viewer, amazed. With a similar, pop-art star-shaped background, “New World” presents Renaissance woman and robot-child, a blue cat peering over her knee as she gently lifts the cover to her “child’s” head, letting out a plume of yellow smoke.
“Raphaelbot” again juxtaposes a Renaissance image of Madonna and Child, here originally created by Raphael, with a robotic figure. In this work, the mother and babe are contained with the framework of a blue robot. A twin to this piece, “Leonardobot” places a Leonardo da Vinci Madonna figure nursing her child inside a golden robotic figure.
The centerpiece to Nelson’s exhibition is “Pandora’s Child,” a triptych that features a stunning robotic figure, arms akimbo, with a heart in its chest. On either side of the figure, two Mickey Mouse images, mouse ears partially lifted to reveal a human brains and mechanical gears inside their heads, pay tribute to the central figure. Above them all, angels, flowers, plummeting planes; at their feet, the water rises, a bed of human skulls beneath the flow. A powerful image that portends both man’s destruction and the approval of Heavenly angels, the work is created in Nelson’s typically brilliant hues, with references to time past as well as the future, a future which may be – now.