Jeff Robinson’s ‘Roth House’ pushes you to look up

Jeff Robinson’s paintings here are curiosities: tops of houses that appear, from a short distance, unassuming. In particular, the very simplicity of “Roth House” — in which everything is crisp, flat, neatly in place — exerts an oddly hypnotic appeal. A cloud over its titular structure mimics the basic shape of the roof in Robinson’s foreground — a triangle with a slated window on the left and a shingled plateau on the right — underscoring the utter lack of event. Nothing appears to happen, not even the cloud’s departure. And it’s the absence of such alteration, or potential for alteration, that keep us interested. What of the rest of the house, the tension, conflict or risk occurring under this roof we half-see? You feel like you know this house, shaped in a way you’ve seen before, so perhaps you know what goes on there. But you don’t: Robinson’s roof, he says, is not reproduced from life but is a portrait of an imagined ideal. Yes, Robinson could have painted a similar structure or even taken a photograph, informing his lines and colors. It’s the fact that he hasn’t that ultimately unlocks this series. There’s beauty in this almost-bored (but not boring) perfection, and also something foreign. To see (or to render) a subject as plain as a rooftop against an empty sky, you allow your mind a break from the chaos that crowds our natural sightline, and our downward gaze toward our pocket technology. “Roth House” depicts a tantalizing fragment of a simpler world, one in which we remember the necessity of rooftops. Somehow, it’s freeing.

Jeff Robinson’s paintings are part of the Summer Collective exhibition at Weinberger Fine Art (114 Southwest Boulevard, through Saturday, August 27

Categories: Art