A selection of recent work by Los Angeles-based artist Robert Russell. With an interest in the role of photography in image-making, Russell’s paintings explore concepts of identity, memory, desire, authenticity, and the entire history of painting. Included in this selection are images from his most recently exhibited “Teacups” series. Invoking Memento Mori and Vanitas paintings, the body of work features larger-than-life teacups with intricate floral decorations set against a field of black. This project sparked his interest in porcelain, leading him to his current project, which depicts figurines made by the Allach Porcelain Manufacturing company during WWII.
Funded by Heinrich Himmler as a factory of the Reich to produce fine porcelain objects to give as gifts to SS soldiers, the Allach Porcelain Manufacturing company eventually lost its labor force and forced Jewish prisoners in concentration camps to continue their production. “Until they were liberated in 1945, these slaves, living in unimaginable circumstances, created figurines of such things as puppies, sheep, lambs, and perfect aryan children,” Russell explains. “These paintings are based on auction lot photos of the few remaining and exceedingly rare objects. I wanted to take these objects back, for myself, to reclaim them as a Jewish artist, and paint them vastly larger than life, exposing them as the monstrous creations they really were.”
See more from Robert Russell below!