I am fascinated by the wealth of possibilities of what painting can be, as well as by what it has been. Artists of the past have established the boundaries, much as early explorers mapped the continents, but we are still finding new ways to make paintings, and likewise, we continue to learn about the Earth and our place in it. I see painting as the search for meaningthe meaning of the painting and the meaning of life.
I am interested in a variety of ideas regarding the nature of painting, and I have developed several ways of working to address these ideas by using realism, abstraction, and often a mixture of both. Color and the processes I use to arrive at an image are the common threads that run through my work.
Over the past three years, I have painted what has become a series I call Natural Histories. As the name suggests, I am interested in the representation of animals. And, more precisely, I am intrigued by how we see the animal kingdom in relation to the environment and ourselves.
The Reef Paintings came about after two trips to the Caribbean: Eleuthera in the Bahamas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. My family and I spent a good deal of time snorkeling in these two places. It was such a wonderful feeling gliding along in the water with the fish. Everything surrounding us was alivethe reef, animals looking like plants, and exotically colored fish. I hope these paintings give the viewer the sensation of being in the water. The paintings are also metaphors for the matrix of nature.
November 2, 2001
Looking at Painting host and co-creator Robert Tharsing is a professor at the University of Kentuckys Art Department, where he has taught since 1971 and twice served as chairman. He is a prolific artist and a strong force in the painting program, teaching and working daily in his studio. The KET series extends his teaching efforts to the general public, with three programs in which he interviews artists throughout Kentucky in their studios, where they talk about their work, and in museums, where they discuss other paintings and illuminate the artists point of view.
Bob is known for the breadth and depth of his artwork. It is not unusual for him to be concurrently at work on separate abstract and representational paintings, another painting that combines elements of both, and a piece of sculpture. He also designed and built his familys summer home on an island in Nova Scotia along with most of the furniture within it, and he sometimes makes books and jewelry.
Born in Santa Monica, CA, he attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1963 to 1967, where he earned BA and MA degrees. He taught at Berkeley and at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh before coming to Kentucky. He married Ann Tower in 1974, and they have a daughter, Lina, who is 18. He also has another daughter, Annika, and a son, Behr, who are grown and live in California with families of their own.
Bobs work was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the University of Kentucky Art Museum in 1996. His work has been shown in numerous museums and galleries regionally, nationally, and internationally and is in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Speed Art Museum, Louisville; the Huntington Museum of Fine Art, Huntington, WV; and the UK Art Museum. His work is also in many private and corporate collections. He is represented in Lexington by Ann Tower.