By Raymundo Muñoz III

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Collaborative mural (detail) by Kaitlin Ziesmer and Robin 1000

Following up last month’s solid “Grimm: Visions of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales” group show in their main gallery, Helikon presents Kaitlin Ziesmer and Robin 1000’s “Electropop,” a wild mashup of alien landscapes and playful pop culture references. As disparate as those elements may seem, something strangely harmonious ensues in this electric pairing. Maybe it’s their similar color palettes, or maybe their reliance on simple geometric motifs, or maybe it’s that in my mind, I can see Ziesmer’s characters occupying Mr. 1000’s fantastical locales in some time outside of our own, but still connected. Perhaps through glowing neon portals.

Okay, I’m getting weird, I know, but hear me out.

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“Surface” by Robin 1000

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“(Girl) Power Rangers: Orange,” “(Girl) Power Rangers: Rose,” and “(Girl) Power Rangers: Green,” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

While Kaitlin’s work seems hinged on the linchpin of time, Robin’s work mostly revolves around space, and the bridge through and between each dimension is identity. Ziesmer’s use of pop culture figures (e.g. Short Circuit’s Johnny 5, Power Rangers, Predator’s titular anti-hero, and Robby the Robot of sci-fi fame) in her character portraits are fun and nostalgic, but melded with mostly feminine figures in plain clothes (many of which are modeled after the artist herself), they invite deeper considerations: How relevant to the artist’s own life and history are the fictional additions? Do they represent archetypes, character traits, or story lines Ziesmer identifies with? Or is it all “just for fun?” I reckon it’s all of the above, and more. And (note to self) that’s a dialogue worth developing with the artist.

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Kaitlin Ziesmer and Robin 1000

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“(She)Brain” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

Robin 1000 deals with identity in symbolic ways as well. Consider the ferocious felines emerging from a female face in “Wild Thing” or the life-death relationship represented in “Baptism.” His calm and assaulting landscapes, though, seem to me the most telling. Invaded by flat, bright geometric shapes that echo mountain peaks and contrast their faded nuances, the artist’s work reminds me of some late 70’s prog-rock album cover, emblazoned with deep designs to get lost in, conveniently enough through incandescent, enigmatic pools of temporal goo. Whoa. And yeah. Robin’s “Surface” kind of sums it all up: cinematic mountain range and accompanying geometric intrusions shown as but a crust that hints at its complementary depths, all under a crackling sky of mysterious design.

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“Wild Thing” by Robin 1000

Oh yeah, and the artfulness of it all. Consider Kaitlin’s clean composition, the retro form and color motifs that lend her static poses dynamism, aided to great effect by the subtle additions of quivering chromatic outlines. Altogether, the work pops and comes to life. Or how Robin’s graf inflections, which overt as they may be in some pieces, can be cunning in others, wherein sputters and flecks of paint recall celestial objects in keeping with his works’ deeper allusions. It’s really that back-and-forth, though, between temporal and spatial elements that keeps me enraptured (and you can partly thank the expert hanging for that); it keeps me believing in this weird and crazy and awesome reality of what we’ve experienced, what is, and the fantastic stew of possibilities we call the future.

Robin 1000 and Kaitlin Ziesmer’s “Electropop” is on display at Helikon Gallery July 18 – August 21. Photos are from July 18 opening reception. For more information and to purchase works, please visit www.helikongallery.com.

 

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“Hand of God” by Robin 1000

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Collaborative mural (detail) by Kaitlin Ziesmer and Robin 1000

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“Garden” and “Donut” by Robin 1000

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“(Girl) Power Rangers: Lilac” and “(Girl) Power Rangers: Orange” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

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“Tronic Remix” by Robin 1000

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“Robin Cubed” by Robin 1000 and Kaitlin Ziesmer

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“Baptism” by Robin 1000

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“SnoCone” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

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“Skysign 1” by Robin 1000

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“Predator’s Pajamas” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

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“Static Fade” by Robin 1000

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“UndeRobby” by Kaitlin Ziesmer

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“Cloudwave 3” by Robin 1000

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