Robert Igoe is a professor of Printmaking and Drawing at UNCG. Although he specializes in lithography, he is mostly known as an oil painter. Painting since early high school, Igoe began using mostly acrylics but moved to primarily oil paint during his college career.
Still, Igoe is often drawn to multiple mediums, such as casein, pastel and the lithography process. An explorer of different genres of painting, Igoe appreciates compositions rendered from life that present a certain air of mystery, carrying this interest into landscapes, still lifes, portraits and life drawing with models. Above all, he values the raw elements of art, space, light and color. Igoe finds he can study them best through his multimedia approach.
Igoe regularly revisits the human form in his work across mediums. As much as he tries to go off on tangents, to explore new areas of work, Igoe often finds constants appearing in his paintings, depicting real, physical space and the things close at hand. Once, while wanting to work out compositional issues before calling in models to reference, Igoe created artificial figures out of whatever he had at hand, such as clothes and books. “Eventually I found out they were interesting on their own, without ever bringing the figure in there,” said Igoe. He also found far more in common with sculptors when trying to find inspiration for his constructed figures paintings than with traditional painters.
After college, Igoe had multiple jobs not directly associated with his pursuits in the arts, most notably managing a card shop selling Magic: The Gathering. He described the experience as very enjoyable, and as something that taught him to interact well with people of all ages.
“Oh I was big into Magic: The Gathering, got in there a long time ago, early in the game, there’s a rich history in that,” said Igoe.
He then went into the car field, working at a dealership fixing and modifying vehicles, another passion of his. These are little pieces of his life that he loves to reference in his work.
A common theme that Igoe constantly feels drawn to is the depiction of bizarre situations rendered in the new context of painting.
Previous subjects of Igoe’s work include the murder scene of a French automotive CEO, himself in an absurd clown self-portrait — which also features a wolfman and a massive figure tearing trees apart —and what can only be described as a nudist’s Christmas morning.
His color palette focuses heavily on blues and greens, and he can be driven to abstraction when the mood strikes him. He loves to take his various interests and find ways to incorporate them indirectly into his construction of a bizarre situation.
“I’ve always had an interest in old cars, muscle cars, things of that nature. It was kinda one of those things I always thought, this is an interest, maybe I should bring it into my work? But it would be so direct, I didn’t quite have a way. Like, well how would I approach this without just going I like this thing, let me paint this thing. I didn’t really want to do that. I’m kind of fascinated by certain historical events in the automotive area as well, and I thought maybe I could deal with this history I could find the subject matter that gives me those weird, peculiar questions or strangeness of life that I like to confront directly,” said Igoe.
For Igoe, art represents a kind of play, play that we all participated in as children but then society deemed inappropriate as we grew older, lunacy and repression that demands to be unleashed. “Artists can be an example of play, of doing things that don’t necessarily have a quantifiable, you know, this happened, this is the use. If you hang art on the wall it keeps the wall upright, it’s not so direct as that. You can think, play with your thoughts and it’s not so problematic,” said Igoe.