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Stamford Museum & Nature Center Presents Robert Deyber: Turning a Phrase

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center presents Robert Deyber: Turning a Phrase open through October 17, 2010 in the Bendel Mansion Museum Galleries.

Countless artists have been inspired by texts, or have incorporated them into their work. None, however, have drawn their inspiration as directly from language as Robert Deyber. His subject matter is speech and, particularly, those turns of phrase that are so embedded in our language that they have become practically shorthand.

Like a pathologist unflinchingly cutting down to the inner core, Deyber takes the consensual meaning of phrases and expressions and deconstructs them. In his hands, even the most commonplace, overused sayings become fresh again. He takes us from the comfort of the familiar to the subtly disturbing images that shake our certainties.

His canvases are built upon a visual pun. It has become customary in his shows to cover their titles and have viewers guess what they are. When revealed, they invariably, elicit smiles, laughs, and a knowing assent. It would be easy, and quite wrong, to interpret them simply as clever puzzles. There are oddly disturbing goings on in his artistry. One does not need a heavy hammer to make subtle social commentary.

Animal figures predominate, lovingly rendered, often in wickedly funny, wacky contexts. This is one of the things that drew us all, at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, to his extraordinary artistry. We are honored that much of the work in this show is premiered at the SM&NC with this exhibition.

Stylistically, Deyber’s art is steeped in hyper-realism and surrealism – labels Robert has told us he dislikes. He is a ferocious deconstructer of clichés and common places, weary of labels. Easy on the eye, handsomely graphic, challenging to the brain, his work does, indeed, defy classification. The work is deceptively simple in structure, with deep skies framing seemingly isolated, very crisply drawn figures. It is the viewer’s task to interconnect them, discovering the alternative meanings created by the artist.

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is deeply proud to present the first museum exhibition of this Connecticut native, with a substantial career and body of work, and a distinguished following of national and international collectors. Viewers may be delighted, challenged, or both, but they are unlikely to use language with the same certainty ever again.

tamford Museum & Nature Center 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford CT 06903 203.322.1646

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