Hero: The Paintings of Robert Bissell

‘Animals are good for thinking’ Claude Lévi-Strauss

Review by Grady Harp

First and foremost, Robert Bissell is a very fine contemporary painter, a fact that may go unobserved due to the immediate emotional impact of his majestic paintings of animals in magical, at times surreal, yet always warmly heartwarming stories in paint. Yet the word ‘fine’ here applies to his technical gifts – the way he handles paint, the intuitive correctness of his compositional concepts, the ever-engaging of the viewer’s imagination of tracing that fine line between praise of the animal kingdom and anthropomorphism. Some may glance at the cover of this new, beautifully designed and published monograph and sense that it is about illustration, about a book for children – and yes, it is that, if ‘children’ applies to the childlike wonder in each of us hopefully not completely bruised by the contemporary realities of the world. But it is much more. Continue reading