Using repetitious and precise cuts, artist Robbie Rowlands manipulates objects and environments. They are monumental manipulations and demand your attention the moment you see them. He installs his work in abandoned homes, school yards, and gymnasiums,using elements from the space to create his sculptures. Doing so gives the place or object a mind of its own. The walls breathe and the floor is alive.
Writer Simon Cooper wrote about the work in an essay that accompanied Rowlands’ Disintegration exhibition in 2008. Despite the time passed, I find that his analysis is still apt for the artist’s current body of work. Cooper writes:
Rowlands bases his sculptural work on things that exist at the fringes of our awareness, utilitarian objects such as lampposts or desks. He refashions them into something altogether different yet in a way that never allows their original identity to be shed. The mass produced and functional designs are softened and framed in terms of a new aesthetic, giving the object a renewed energy or sensibility. The effect is to reveal hidden potential in what had come to be regarded as outmoded. If the former object is largely unrecognizable in the new sculpture, the process is not one of violence, rather there is a sense of redemption, as if the object has been liberated from obsolescence, from forgetfulness.
Rowlands repurposing gives us the opportunity to remember the thing or place, but place it in an entirely new context. Sometimes, the way something is cut and later posed feels like a cartoon. Take, for instance, the basketball hoop that has been cut. Seeing this hoop laying on the ground, like a turtle on it’s back, is simultaneously comical and sad. We’re reminded that while it has no practical use anymore, it didn’t before it was manipulated. Rowlands has saved it from total obscurity.