The paintings of Robert Otto Epstein are vividly colored gridded compositions that call to mind 8-bit imagery and 90's computer software. His subject matter is sourced from pop culture and constructed through a rigorous process he derived from vintage knitting patterns. The parallels between textile design and computer graphics come naturally— binary code itself was based on weaving looms. Although the subject matter has its roots in pop culture, it is unrecognizable as such. "Painstakingly rendering patterns in paint on paper subverts their original purpose," he says. "The paintings become an admixture of the classical and the contemporary."
In Dale Led The Braves in RBIs in 1980 (2019) Robert has tapped into my own childhood love of baseball cards. Here he has depicted both sides of the card beside each other, but the grid pattern obscures all detail, leaving only a quasi-nostalgic affect. At first the image appears hard-lined and graphic, but look closer and you will see that all the squares are thickly painted with a gestural hand.
"OK I think I got it Now. . ." (2019) is another sports scene, this time taken from a televised NFL broadcast. Unlike much of his other work, this scene is rendered in colored pencil, lending the piece a faded, vintage look. As the title suggests, it can be difficult to learn the rules of a sport, which creates loyal in-groups and out-groups, not unlike the art world. After switching from a career in law to a career in art Robert realized that "as a bit of an 'art outsider,' he could express himself better in paint without the 'art historical baggage.'"
Second Baseman (2016) is a grid of large saturated squares that reads as a very low-res video game graphic. The composition hints at grass, sky, and a figure while the pink border is suggestive of a baseball card. The whole thing seems intentionally unfinished, perhaps thanks to the influence of French Deconstructionist Philosophy. "I liked deconstructionism because every answer is a question, and nothing is ever stable enough."
Robert recently completed a basketball court painting in New York in Chelsea Park (28th St between 9 / 10 Ave.) through the Facebook Art Department and NYC Parks. Follow along on Instagram to see what’s next: @robertottoepstein