The artist Robert Smalls describes his work as primitive surrealism. He explains that his art is best defined verbally by the literary definition of these terms.
Primitive: defined as crudely simple in design or construction; created by an artist with no formal training, especially using a simple style; being or belonging to an earlier form of a language.
Surrealism: defined as a movement in art that tried to represent the subconscious mind.
Smalls draws most of his inspiration from a lifelong fascination with the studies of the unconscious mind, specifically dreams and astral projection. He has discovered the theme of his latest series to be geographical direction and physical bearing. His method involves painting a canvas from north to south, then east to west.
Robert’s work has graced the walls of many academic and cultural institutions including Penn State University, The University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and The African American Museum in Philadelphia. Smalls has been recognized by several accredited organizations, including The Philadelphia Art Alliance and The Pennsylvania Counsel on the Arts.
This exhibition at the Painted Bride Art Center represents a homecoming to one of the brides earliest enthusiasts and perhaps one final nod to the Icons of the South Street Renaissance. An era of Icons whose influence on the culture of Philadelphia and the art world should never be underestimated.