ROBERT LEE MEJER is a Distinguished Professor of Art at Quincy University, where he serves as Art Program Coordinator. He holds a M.F.A. from Miami University of Ohio, a B.S. in Art/Art Education from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana and is a signature charter member in the Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society.
“As a painter/printmaker my focus is creating works that unite the modern traditions of Classical formal structure using geometry with the Romantic/Impressionist concern for color and gestural improvisation in order to create a visual drama—via opposites, that equates to the pulse of life. I agree with Kandinsky that the circle is the most peaceful shape and that it represents the human soul. In my work I hope TO PRESENT (inside to out) rather than REPRESENT (outside to in).
I am a Geometric Abstract Intimist that seeks to express various emotional situations and psychic spaces via a layering process that operates out of a collage-space tradition. The role of collage plays an important part in all of my work-its physicality, its illusion, and its spatial dominance. With watercolor/monotype I try to push the realm of illusion without resorting to the physical use of collage. The painting is but a fingerprint of the spirit of this search.”
Watercolors & Monotypes
“I am attracted to the infinite possibilities of the medium/techniques of watercolor & monotype and its interaction with paper. I find the unique layering process and the fluidity of color to be seductive and rich in nuance.
The image is meant to be visually experienced by the viewer, who is challenged to think again about the nature of watercolor, image and space —to “converse” visually. The works are about the journey and sheds light on how the images came to be. In the mid-60’s
I experimented with paper collage. I struggled to balance traditional art structuring with an exploration of diverse media/processes. The “layering” process and its spatial implications became important to me. These served as new points of departure for my acrylics, oils and later watercolors.
In 1973 I received a graduate fellowship at Kent State University (Summer Blossom Art Program) to work with artists Nathan Oliveira and Milton Resnick. At that time, my images evolved through a stencil-spray enamel process on paper and also involved a series of direct oil paintings on canvas, dealing with issues of light/layering/grids and thematically with the sun, moon and space. In 1974, after having seen the spectacular monotypes by Oliveira at Kent State, I then pursued the making of one-of-a-kind images through a multiple color block printing process.
In 1979, while exploring oil-based assemblegraphs (another layering process) in a workshop at Notre Dame University with Michael Ponce De Leon, I conceived the idea of making water-based monotypes, using a painterly direct approach on grained Plexiglas and then printing the image in reverse using an etching press. As the monotype became the focus for my experimentation in the 1970’s, I continued to draw inspiration from the analogy with collage, by using an assortment of industrial shapes fabricated from new or discarded screen scraps, plastic ribbon, sandpaper, cloth, string and paper/tracing fragments reflective of our society. These elements were then painted, dried and assembled on the plate before printing. In essence my monotypes are printed symbolic collages. Now I find that what I have learned from the monotype experience haunts the images I capture in my watercolor painting.
I am a modernist in attitude, influenced by Gorky’s painterly/scumbled surfaces, Rothko’s delight in color-edge, Kandinsky’s non-objectivism, and Klee’s experimentalism. I am a representational artist, but I choose to represent not the world of appearances, but emotional situations and psychic spaces. Labels can suggest, but they cannot define an artist. His work forces him to make his own language, a process, which takes a very long time.
The watercolors are the subject themselves and not about subject matter. However, certain images fascinate me. On the one hand, I explore architectural forms as they relate to order: windows, which frame our perception of reality and allows light to enter our spaces; doorways, which yield a sense of our own presence in space and mirrors, which introduce a special play of light and inner space. Yet I am also drawn to parallel the shapes of nature, in particular the randomness of cloud forms and the accidental/weathered /natural and manmade mark. I am concerned with the interplay of indoor/outdoor spaces and with the process of creating illusory spaces on a two-dimensional paper, through the layering of elements.
Many analogies suggest what I am trying to do. I am a chess player, manipulating limited resources and rules to generate an infinite, surprising array of moves. I am a jazz musician of visual music: creative, instantaneous, and improvisational. My works are visual poems, inviting dialogue with the viewer; and visual music, a song for the eyes.
All of my work partakes of the dynamic experience of the moment: my life experience, the collective experience of art history and the interactive experience of creating the work. I want to call up in the viewers a special experience of their own: a child-like awe and curiosity, a renewed freshness of vision.”
The Quincy Art Center will host the opening reception for Robert Lee Mejer: 50 Year Retrospective – Inscapes on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 6 – 10 p.m. A gallery talk by Robert will start at 7:30 p.m. Join us for appetizers and beverages throughout the evening!