Apr 12th 2019

2nd Floor: Rob Bondgren
3rd Floor: Ara-Lucia

Rob Bondgren:

Vernal presents a selection of new multi-media works that use stories, myths, and legends passed down from various cultures to explore ideas related to, among others: spring and renewal; cycles of life and changing seasons; love and loss; life after death; and flowers. Stories taken directly from Greek mythology that explain the creation of spring flowers like hyacinths and narcissus, and from Norse mythology and the legend of Valhalla are examples that are used as points of departure for personal investigations of the exhibition’s themes. By freely combining parts from these various stories, sampling and altering visual references from historic sources, and layering in elements that reference my own personal interpretations and affinities with the stories’ various characters, I seek to introduce new perspectives and offer viewers new points of access from which to enter these timeless tales.

These works, which amount to a series of fractured narratives, made alone and under the name bourbon, in collaboration with Loretta Bourque, are extremely personal and distinctly colored (stained)by recent events in my life. These challenges have made me question my very foundation, and at times have prevented me from moving the work forward, but ultimately they have lead me back to the exhibition’s central themes with a renewed focus. I acknowledge that in making this work I am borrowing freely from the mythologies of cultures outside my own. I respect the fact that the juxtaposition of imagery and iconography from various religious sources may create tension within the work and even with some viewers, but this is not a primary goal, rather a byproduct of my working process, which is by nature collaborative and uncensored. I am indebted to the many artists who have explored the show’s themes before me, and from whom I have borrowed and quoted liberally. I offer these works in homage to them, and as tribute to those who in leaving this world have given me great cause to complete them. It is also with much gratitude I dedicate this exhibition to my family and friends who have given me the space and time I have needed to begin to see again the first green of spring in every challenge; and a sense of renewed optimism that comes to me like when I see the first crocus of spring or get a whiff of the almost-too -much smell of hyacinths at their peak. If I have accomplished nothing else in this work, I hope that in sharing the beauty of a single flower, that I might spark a light of hope in someone else who might be struggling to see that the part of them which they think they may have lost is still there. Like a spring flower, it has only been laying dormant, waiting for the perfect moment to re-emerge and bloom again for all to see.


I am a writer of letters. For me, written correspondence permits a naturalness of expression – of intimacy, connectedness, and affection – that is different from communication through technological means. The letter writing tradition also plays a vital role across my creative practice, and my current work is based upon on it.

For these works, I began by writing love letters between a fictional woman invoked from another plane, and me. The letters share both the mundane and the precious — as love letters, they build an intimate vocabulary. Marked by the dates, the repetition of such an interchange captures not just the passage of time, but an evolution of two hearts merging. Once transcribed, the letters are torn apart and woven into the painting; small sighs amid the intensity of texture and the energetic gestures of blue paint.

They are blue for a reason. What that reason is, I still don’t know.

Although my painting has included the same themes for many years, I did not begin to include love letters until 2018.

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