Join us from 5pm next Thursday 3 November to celebrate our first solo with Robbie Motion.

A face emerges from a pool of darkness, features swimming and puddling together. Bodies appear distorted, as if reflected in a carnival mirror. Heads, limbs, and torsos are punctured by gaping holes. Positive and negative space become ambiguous, scale and proportion wilfully discarded. This is the murky and mysterious world inhabited by the figures of artist Robbie Motion.

Motion has a way of collapsing time through his paintings; classicism, myth, modernism, and contemporary culture are muddied together in an oddly familiar and fluid way, like the faint memory of a half-forgotten dream. With his warped and distorted figures spot-lit against pitch black backgrounds, there is certainly an influence of Irish/British artist Francis Bacon, whose own paintings encapsulated humanity through a visceral and exploration of despair, isolation, and mortality. Yet while Motion’s paintings are similarly loaded with an emotive, slightly uncomfortable charge, there is a playfulness that counters the darker underbelly of these works.

In Soft Handling two figures appear jostled together or interrupted in a passionate embrace. With its unyielding ecru sculpted hairline, one figure is reminiscent of a roman statue, but with a face imprinted with those inky features seemingly belonging to their cobalt counterpart.The intimate intermingling of these figures seems to present a poignant expression of the way in which we rub up against one another as we move through the world,each of us leaving emotional and sometimes physical marks upon other lives and bodies. There is an element of satire at play here too; something about the jumbled features – the particular shape of the nose – that recalls Mr. Potato Head, that ubiquitous American toy that emerged onto the market in the 1950s,whose limbs and facial features can forever be found forgotten at the bottom of a box in a charity store.

Hypnos (after TV) references the severed head of a statue of Hypnos, the personification of sleep in Greek mythology, with wings sprouting from his temples amid his cascading locks inset with Mickey Mouse eyes. Puddle Gazer is an ode to Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio’s Narcissus,which depicts the mythological figure of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection. Obsessed by the image of himself he sees in the water, he is unable to tear himself away and eventually dies. In Bathroom Sink, a grazed and bloodied palm is raised up to meet a swollen lip. Another hand violently grips the hair piled atop a head, whether it’s shaking, or reeling is hard to say, but the sense of action is expressed in the way the paint smears across the canvas, capturing the body in eternal movement.


  • Thu 03 Nov


  • 5:00 pm — 7:00 pm


  • 42 Victoria Street
  • Wellington Central