Palimpsest

Robert Doble’s suite of large paintings extends the artist’s interest in the mythological and the otherworldly. The exhibition is titled Palimpsest – a term that usually describes texts which have been amended or added to, thereby obscuring previous layers while building up new meanings.

Something similar occurs in these paintings, as Doble has drawn and redrawn images, one on top of the other, until the final figure manifests amongst the rich layers of preceding marks. In each work, a large-scale head emerges from the skein of deeply-incised lines: Some are quite crisp and pristine whilst others seem to dissolve into the atmosphere around them.

Doble’s well-established drawing skills are shown here to good effect. Previous figures are subsumed by second, third or fourth layers. The result is a rich and lavish history of images which, once noticed by the viewer, tell endless varieties of implied narrative.

As in his previous exhibition at NKN Gallery, Doble has here investigated mythical beings, which spring from the artist’s own psyche. One hybrid creation is strangely reptilian, with scales traversing the head; another has a broken, fractured outline; another seems to disintegrate into (or emerge from) the background; yet another has an enigmatic crawling figure visible beneath the main image.

These sombre, fallen angels stare enigmatically from their painted surfaces, into our world, giving us a glimpse into a primordial twilight.

Steve Cox, 2018.