ARTIST ROOMS artist essay
Los Angeles-based artist Robert Therrien conjures up a world of the unexpected filled with images which are both familiar and strange. He creates works with a deceptively childish charm and logic that suggests the realm of fairytales where ideas can be translated into reality.
Therrien became known during the 1980s when he began to make works with simple, recognisable shapes such as jugs, coffins and doors, transformed through a variety of media including copper, wood and bronze. These works engaged the artist with the notion of the found object, addressed most explicitly in his brick paper drawings, a version of which, dating from 2003, is included in ARTIST ROOMS. Such works express Therrien’s use of a wide range of media.
The photograph No Title (Scrubbrush) from 1997, held in ARTIST ROOMS, is typical of works in which Therrien represents practical implements, but imbues them with a magical aura that transcends their utilitarian function. While some of the objects Therrien uses are found, many are made by and for the artist.
During the 1990s, he began exploring scale, creating oversized objects that draw attention to details usually overlooked in the everyday world. His use of domestic images suggests an interest in the spatial world of the still-life. However, his concern with the interaction between the viewer and their environment has a firm connection to architecture. This is particularly at play in his room-sized table and chair pieces, a major example of which is held in ARTIST ROOMS, and in the single, over-sized objects such as No Title (Oil Can).
The ambition and surrealism of Therrien’s practice is expressed in the major installation RED ROOM which comprises a closet filled with a vast array of collected objects, all painted red. Each item holds a significant, personal memory for the artist, revealing the hidden narratives and drama of both the ordinary and unnoticed, and the physical and mental relationships which exist in the world. In this way, Therrien explores the connection between human beings and the objects that help them to live their lives.