Robin Neate

In a lonely place

  • Purchased 2016
  • oil on canvas
  • 1957 x 1498mm
  • 2016/045
  • 2013

In a Lonely Place is the title of a classic film noir directed by Nicholas Ray, who was best known for the countercultural movie starring James Dean in his most celebrated role, Rebel Without a Cause. When Robin Neate was titling this work—which comes from a series he called the Ray Paintings—he chose the phrase for its evocative feeling and ability to provoke personal readings from the viewer. “In a lonely place. I’ve been thinking maybe that’s where painting is today, but at the time that I chose it I was thinking more about the loneliness of working in your studio or even living in this part of the world.”

The Ray Paintings continue Neate’s earlier explorations of abstraction in photographs and experimental films. “Cinema has influenced me as much as painting”, he says. “Growing up in New Zealand, cinema gave you ideas from the wider world that might resonate with you.” Falls of light in darkened rooms, clouds of dust in a projector beam, the blur of an out-of-focus image; Neate’s abstract paintings recall long afternoons spent in movie theatre matinees during the 1950s and 60s while other kids were outside playing sport. “The way we see history is always linked to our personal histories. How and when we encounter images is always significant. It’s that emotional context for art that interests me the most.”

Neate’s works reveal a concern for the discarded and outmoded. Painting, he suggests, is not a linear practice but one filled with loops and double-backs, whose history—along with the wider register of visual culture—is instantly available as source material for a contemporary artist.

(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)