Although originally born in the UK, as a fast emerging South African talent in his younger years, Robert was best know for his photorealistic charcoals and pencil drawings, often depicting indigenous flora and fauna. This has evolved into a distinctive signature style called “Reactivism” with use of acrylics in vibrant colours. Reactivism (performed live) is based on expressive unknown brush strokes influenced by random noise. There is a basic goal of balance on a two dimensional plane using organic shapes but the outcome can never be predicted or known.
Reactivism stems from influences like Kandinsky and the essence of Abstract Art where Art is allowed to be free from any preconceived thoughts or constraints. The free flow form of the brush is captured through unconscious application and once a structure is established organic shapes are worked out from the result. The reasoning to perform live is to draw from the “Collective Unconscious” and realise the participation of all present.
Robert’s early path into digital Art, circa 1991, brings him to a new realm of exploration where he has married the theory of his Reactive work with the new digital age and in the tradition of “Ready Made” like Duchamp and social commentary through popular iconic branded imagery like Warhol, he is exploring “Digital Randomism”
The basis of “Digital Randomism” is to use the popular programming of the day that is delivered via satellite or cable feeds, something that goes into most living rooms, and by distorting this pre-existing data feed into absolutely random visuals he captures truly undecoded pixilated imagery he creates imagery that he calls Digital Randomism. Its randomness depends on the satellite feed at that particular moment which is distorted through the manipulation of wiring and data cards and then slightly modified by the artist afterwards. It becomes an art piece that has not been created by solely humans anymore but by the random interrelation of technology, electricity and light. This is the future of art.
Q. What is art?
A. Ones interpretation of Visual Aesthetic
Q. Do humans have to play a part in creating art?
A. Yes. Software can take care of everything now but the artist has to initially write it.
Q. If art is not entirely created by humans anymore, should it still be called art or should it be given another name?
Q. Which philosopher do you admire the most?
A. Carl Jung
Q. What’s your personal philosophy?
Another project Jennings is currently working on is called Photosynthesis. It’s a self-powered installation that glorifies Mother Nature’s and mans technological advancement.
Q. Could you please tell us more about the idea behind the installation?
A. It is an in depth look at the absolute and brilliant creative talent of mother nature and the realisation that humans could fuck it all up forever. By glorifying nature through drawings and exhibiting it in a architectural space that only uses the power of the sun we can probably influence a handful of people around the world about practical examples of renewable resources, who in turn could educate others. Children will learn what a disaster their fathers and mothers are leaving them and hopefully through their new found knowledge can put programs into effect that avert a global disaster.
Q. For the project you’re drawing photorealistic flowers in charcoal. Is working simultaneously on two opposing projects intentional?
A. The Yin and the Yang – I draw technically challenging pieces to keep my ability in check and it gives me a license or “right of passage” to play in the unconscious abstract world of art. Focusing on the technical studio work and working those long hours makes the investigations into the expressive unknown so much more enjoyable and rewarding, it's like jumping off a cliff and free falling.
In artists circles you have to have talent to earn the ability play. There are those artists who are accepted by a gallery through social connections and do well as an abstract artist or “adventurous artist” but if you cant draw it eventually catches up to you and people see right through you.
Artists are usually the best judge of other artists.
Mondrian is the perfect example of an artist who traveled along the road of visual enlightenment, he could paint a black line and it actually meant something, he earned it. Whereas there are loads of “artists” out there who theorise on why they painted blue circles or hacked up a black canvas and the gallery embellishes it to the nth degree to ever eager patrons and curators who lap it up and pull out the check books
Q. Why is nature so important to you?
A. We are nature.
Q. You painted the Rolls Royce Phantom in acid color flowers (nature vs. technology). Do you think that one day Man will overcome nature and destroy it completely?
A. Maybe not completely but we are doing an amazing job at the moment. I would like to award prizes to the presidents of the G8 when ever a species becomes extinct, just to say well done and give them a pat on the back.
Q. Should artists rather create beauty or reflect the reality that surrounds them?
A. Once you have reflected your reality enough and are happy with what you can produce I believe artists should look within and dig deeper to explore other avenues of the creative process. I am an advocate of creating pleasure and therefore strive to create visual beauty. There are other tastes which are obscure but I will stick with visual aestheticism.
Q. What is equilibrium to you?
A. Look at history and create the future.