Caelyn Robertson is well known for her incredibly emotive, large scale portraits that are both bold and expressive in colour and technique. She works primarily with female subjects and looks to display them without context, background or preconception. We all see our individual lives through different lenses depending on personal experience and view point. What Robertson seeks to create through her lens however, is an artwork that acts like a room full of mirrors. They are reflections of the subject, the creator and the viewer eternally bouncing back and forth.
In looking at the art work of Caelyn Robertson it is worth considering the creative process of the artist herself. When asked in an interview about her method Robertson responded, ‘I think. A lot. Often at night time while sleeping I envision things and colours and pieces to create. I envision new ways of approaching my paintings. Even though I spend a lot of time looking at other artists work that inspire me, I know when to close my eyes and do my own thing. It’s important to me to have that balance. I never do pre sketches or planning, jotting ideas or image sourcing. I have been encouraged to do so by many mentors or artists I follow, but I simply don’t have the patience and find it boring. I tend to be impulsive and jump straight in because I need to see in order to feel and know. It is probably something I should work on doing, but as it stands at this point in time, this is who I am and my creative process…It is quite something to come to terms with, being honest with yourself about your strengths or limitations. I have a sense that neglecting to do so hampers one’s creative space and process significantly.’
Robertson describes becoming a painter as something that happened to her, not a well thought out decision. Her need to create is involuntary and embedding in her blood. Perhaps this is due to the high levels of artistic talent in her family with both her parents working as singers and her mother training as a fine artists, raising both Caelyn and her sister by the pencil. Having been exposed to life in the arts from a very young age Roberson has been able to captivate her talents as a young artist and understand exactly how to depict light, shade and female emotion in her canvases.
Roberton’s portraits tread a fine line between realism and painterly quality, she displays both an accurate representation of her subjects but also brave colour choices and painterly technique such as visible strokes, dripping and mottled effect. Robertson focuses on realism but also finds interest in the feeling she gets from her models, the feeling she gets when she is painting and the feeling the artwork gives the viewer. Many of Robertson’s viewers express a feeling of sadness in her portraits. Although not intentionally trying to portray this emotion and not considering herself a sad person, the way Robertson’s art depicts emotion is an incredible element expressed in her work. We all have a deep, dark side and Robertson’s use of caustionary colours such as red and inky blues reflects this. Her artwork is true to herself as an artist, true to creation and true to the viewer.
Robertson predominantly paints females as a way to reflect the elements of warmth, strength, beauty and serenity that are true to the female species at its best. She is inspired by people and knowing her model is an important part of her process. Her work captures what lies beneath the surface of an individual’s appearance rather than portraying an individual by the clothes they are wearing or the place they are situated. One of her series that toys with this idea of beneath the surface is her underwater portraiture that depicts a dark yet cleansing pallet of energy. She looks to display a raw individuality in each work and strives to show something that is not so obvious to the naked eye.
By exploring the colour red in much of her work Robertson is suggesting both power and strength in her sitters. One of the boldest, most evocative and energetic colours in the spectrum, red stands out in any work of art generally to signal danger or warning but it is not a colour that is alien to the human form. Our own blood is red, making it a colour that is instantly familiar but also heightening our association with danger, fear and intensity that is often established in early childhood with our first cut or injury. In contrast to these danger signals, Robertson uses her deep red colouring to juxtapose with her sitters calm demeanour. When lighter tones of red are introduced they seem to speak more of love and femininity, but in combining both these shades these individuals staring out at us from the canvas, feel strong and powerful to signify the strength of women.
At present Robertson works from her home studio in Cape Town, South Africa. She has perticipated in many group exhibtions locally as well as international shows throughout Portugal, Spain and Sweden. As an artist she is frequently commissioned to paint personal portraits ever since the start of her career and her artworks are now in many private residences throughout South Africa, Europe and the USA.