In 2015, Duke Robillard’s musical career was put on hold due to a rotator cuff injury. Unable to pick up the guitar and play, a new form of expression took over. As an award-winning blues and jazz musician, Duke was familiar with fine arts as a child, but followed music through his life journey.
However, while playing all over the globe, he visited countless museums and was exposed to master artists from all centuries and mediums. With a keen sense of art, he dabbled in photography and painting over the years before he began painting in Abstract Expressionism, which was born in New York City in the 1940s post World War II. It’s characterized by a mirage of emotions, abstract shapes and color.
The Abstract Art of Duke Robillard is currently on display at the Blackstone River Theater. One can view and feel the emotions, rhythm, color and energy. His acrylic and oil blend takes over the canvas for an energized pop! The blue hues dominate his past miles of travels and music moods. Fine and curvy lines added reflect hints of musical notes and crescendos of chansons. Many are ‘untitled,’ but these pieces will have you creating your own title. His eye-catching reds emulate late nights and the mystical mood of the music venues. ‘Devil Dog and Woman’s Mouth’ may simulate an opposition of forces or similar juxtaposition between them. I particularly love the added photos and mixed media to give certain pieces an acquainted ‘Duke’ accent. ‘Portrait of Beatrice as a Middle-Aged Woman’ has orange hues that dominate with added buttons for an interesting effect. I see a complete woman with aging graceful accents that make ‘Beatrice’ special. ‘Vibrant Distortion,’ with its multicolored palette, will have you hearing music the entire time you focus on this piece. From highs to lows, the music doesn’t stop. I noticed in the exhibit a few paintings in earth tones. My take is that Duke’s palette experimented with muted pigments that give off an impression of solitude with a soft awaking. They are different from his colorful works, although equally impressive and emotionally sensitive.
With his newfound love for creating on canvas, it’s impressive to see an artist always exploring new direction in his talent.
The Abstract Art of Duke Robillard is currently on exhibit at the Blackstone River Theater. The exhibit will conclude April 8 when the Duke Robillard Band featuring Sunny Crownover performs. riverfolk.org/gallery.html