Bob Thompson: So let us all be citizens
April 21 through July 8, 2023
By NINA MDIVANI, May 2023
Robert “Bob” Thompson (1937-1966) lived for brief twenty-eight years and yet, his bewitching, vibrant solo exhibition that just opened at 52 Walker last week shows a solid body of work of an artist who lived through many influences, but has successfully resolved his anxieties leaving a recognizable and distinct perception. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, studied education and later art. He was connected to Sam Gillian, but also to jazz legends of the day Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Ornette Coleman, Milford Graves. Thompson received a grant to study in Paris, Ibiza and Rome. Here he was able to observe and rework the great European figurative tradition. What we have on view in Tribeca is his personal vision of unlearned classicism and an individual reality that takes on well-known compositions, yet revitalizes them through striking, mystical, beings.
Tintoretto, Poussin, Uccello, Watteau, Goya are all present, but Thompson manages to insert his figures without making this intrusion farcical or callous. His abstract human figures of scarlet red, lemony yellow or deep magenta create their own crescendos within the balanced compositions, not dissimilar to the principles of jazz variation he so often has listened to while living in New York. WM
Nina Mdivani is Georgian-born and New York-based independent curator, writer and researcher. Her academic background covers International Relations and Gender Studies from Tbilisi State University, Mount Holyoke College and Museum Studies from City University of New York. Nina's book, King is Female, published in October 2018 in Berlin by Wienand Verlag explores the lives of three Georgian women artists and is the first publication to investigate questions of the feminine identity in the context of the Eastern European historical, social, and cultural transformation of the last twenty years. Nina has contributed articles to Hyperallergic, Flash Art International, The Brooklyn Rail, JANE Magazine Australia, NERO Editions Italy, XIBT Magazine Berlin, Eastern European Film Bulletin, Indigo Magazine, Arte Fuse. As curator and writer Nina is interested in discovering hidden narratives within dominant cultures with focus on minorities and migrations. You can find out more about her work at ninamdivani.com