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On View: The Feeling of Manhattan

New York Turmoil, oil, by Robert Gilbert

You can almost hear the taxis honking, can’t you?

In our latest solo exhibit, artist Robert Gilbert brings bustling Manhattan into our gallery in Old Town Alexandria. Seventeen paintings make up “A Study of Manhattan: Power, Dominance, and Excitement.”

Phantom and West Side, oil, by Robert Gilbert

But Gilbert isn’t only a painter. He’s also …

… a guide

Frommer’s is nice, but as an artist, Gilbert is able to direct your attention to all the best spots. You’ve noticed the crisscrossing lines fragmenting these scenes. Gilbert calls them “lines of refraction” and uses them to focus your gaze when so much activity is calling out to you.

With these guide lines, a single painting can be both busy and focused.

Tram to Roosevelt Island by Robert Gilbert

… an architect

In this case, literally: Gilbert has a master’s degree in architecture. As he recreates the towering structures of New York, he’s also building a structure of his own within the painting. Gilbert says he approaches the pieces of a scene as though they are “part of a puzzle.” Perspective, narrative, and color all contribute to the structure that solves that puzzle.

by Robert Gilbert

… a storyteller

What’s a city without a million stories? What’s a cityscape without that feeling of being dropped onto the street?

By placing the viewer at ground level looking up, Gilbert’s paintings put you in the thick of it. But instead of focusing on individual people, it melds crowds and buildings into a single scene, capturing a thread of a story without spelling one out.

“I don’t want to paint just a skyscraper,” Gilbert says. “I want to paint a story.”

“A Study of Manhattan: Power, Dominance, & Excitement” is on view through Sunday, May 6. The opening reception is Thursday, April 12, 6:30–8:00 pm.

About the artist

Robert Gilbert earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle. His artwork has received numerous accolades, awards, and press attention, including articles in Elan Magazine and Art Business News. Gilbert’s work has been featured in fourteen solo exhibitions in addition to numerous juried group shows. Gilbert currently resides near Great Falls, VA, where he paints, teaches, and continues working on his series depicting New York City.

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