The colours! The faces! There’s something incredibly charming and cute about the bold, bright, and disarmingly cheerful paintings of Robert Otto Epstein.
Each portrait is based on an image found by a simple Google search of celebrities, models and NBA basketball stars, rendering the portrait in a simple, flat style with a focus on areas of pattern. The charm in the faces lies in their sparseness: mouths, noses and eyes are reduced to the most minimal components.
Though he draws so directly from his subject matter, Epstein delights in reinventing his subjects as he sees fit: he gives them entirely new outfits, backdrops and colouring to mix nostalgia with newness in each portrait.
Brooklyn-based Epstein studied philosophy and political science at the University of Pittsburgh and law at the University of Durham before moving into painting, having taught himself rather than going through the formal art institution trajectory. He’s since shown his work at a wide range of galleries across the world, including The Drawing Center in New York, The University of Hawaii and Belgium’s Voorkamer Gallery.
A series of his works will be shown at VOLTA NY, which will take place at Pier 90 from March 1 – 5 as part of Armory Arts Week.