The Third Door: The Works of Ray Robinson
November 17, 2021 through January 15, 2022
By ALFRED ROSENBLUTH, January 2022
If Ray Robinson’s radical yet simple philosophy of perception went unmentioned when discussing “The Third Door: The Works of Ray Robinson” at Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, the featured works could only be appreciated as beautiful and unique variations on 16th and 17th century England’s infamous Witch trials. Ray writes about this philosophy’s inception in a three-part chronical detailing a year of his adolescence spent under his Grandmother’s mentorship. This chronicle functions much like a traditional grimoire – a practical manuscript that offers a method by which one may shift from an inherited, exoteric concept of space towards one that is fundamentally esoteric. In his writing, Ray cautions that such an egress from consensual reality should not be taken lightly, making plain his conviction that it could be at the cost of one’s identity.
While this philosophy’s claims can only be alluded, we can witness their mastered application in these 23 works. One senses the scenes’ historic identity despite omission of explicit details; unlike so many existing images on the subject, they do not sensationalize the violence which their subjects endure, nor do they take a moral stance but instead compel the viewer towards introspection. Their limited black and white palette expresses Ray’s vision on the most fundamental terms, conveying a Western narrative of dualism through a Taoist lens of basic polarities. We see the Moon’s solitary reflection caught upon placid water; her cold, silver pigment elsewhere performs the consuming white flames of an execution pyre. Robinson’s perceptual sophistication employs his palette beyond the manufacture of convincing optics: the cumulative, shimmering effects of his brushwork suggest that he is active witness to an unfolding event.
Most all visual artists today implicitly validate conventions which constellate the linear, Western narrative of Art by either disregarding or championing them. This dichotomy of choice is so ingrained in almost every artist’s mind that a distinct, third option rarely appears as a possibility. To depart familiar shores through this third door requires the vessel of a deep and informed vision – as such an endeavor involves matters beyond artistic proficiency alone. WM