The Infinity Card
Solo Exhibition at Chapter Arts Centre
Cardiff, UK
10/12/2022 - 16/04/2023

“For his first major solo exhibition in Wales, Leo Robinson, presents oracles, musical scores and objects that explore a speculative future. In this, new belief systems for the cultivation of self-knowledge have been rebuilt and reimagined, as an act of healing, from the destructive legacies of colonialism. Drawing on his study and use of the divination method of I Ching, Robinson’s rich world-building imagines a post-diasporic future in which ancient cosmologies and indigenous knowledge systems have informed and evolved new rituals and practices that guide spiritual journeys of transformation. 

Robinson’s artworks take the forms of paintings, sculptures and collages that include found objects and images alongside instructive texts and musical notations. The ephemera of contemporary culture including Pokémon cards, children’s stickers and printed images from Instagram and TikTok feeds feature across the works, grounding them in a near-distant future.

Central to the exhibition is Robinson’s symbolist language which recurs throughout the works: the net, the flame, the blooming flower, the primate, the vessel, the cross, and variations play out in an endless psychodrama. Within each work lies the potential for transformation from one psychological state to the next, yet the path is not always clear. Robinson’s work asks us to be open to the power and potential of ritual-making to make sense of our inner worlds and the world around us.” 

Read an Exhibition Text by Joseph Morgan Schofield here.

Theories for Cosmic Joy
Solo Exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary
London, UK
05/07/2019 - 13/09/2019

“Theories for Cosmic Joy showcases new, previously unseen work developed by Robinson over the past two years. Robinson produces diverse and symbolically rich work, spanning drawing, collage, watercolour, sculpture and video. The exhibition focusses on works on paper which illuminate the philosophical and mystical explorations of his practice.

In his work, Robinson narrates the origin stories and founding myths of a fictional micro-civilisation, whose knowledge, beliefs, art, morals and customs echo real-world cultural constructs. This world-building exercise allows the artist to explore and critique fundamental ideas relating to the blocs of thinking that make up civilisation, such as progress, religion and aesthetics. Referencing Plato, and the birth of conceptual thought, Robinson is interested in studying how humans deal with the prospect of transformation through abstract belief formation, and observes the human tendency to cling to ideas with the expectation of transcendental or transformative outcomes.

The works on paper in the exhibition are inspired by folk-tale illustrations, scientific drawings, illustrated teaching books and the visionary work of William Blake. In Newton with Horse Christ (2019), Robinson pays homage to William Blake’s portrait of the English scientist. Echoing the original watercolour, which questioned the relationship between science and religion, Robinson’s Newton is depicted following the rules of his compass, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. Meanwhile a black horse, a symbolic deity whose thigh is tattooed with a cross, stands besides him. Technology and science often feature as tangible, propelling forces within Robinson’s fictional world, and recurring elements, such as grids and surreal machines, which are analogous to pixels or nets, attempt to capture and abstract the world from its sensible reality. The artist often counterbalances the propelling forces of progress with their opposites: thus a society which worships technology is also embattled in violent and recurring ideological clashes with obscurantist, anti-science and anarcho-primitivist factions.

Robinson writes: “Both the desire to indulge in abstraction and to cleanse oneself of it are presented on equal terms, as a constant battle between two extremes. The extreme dualities that exist not only in the mind but in external circumstances, such as current socio-political conflicts and religious debate also played a part in the conflict that exists within the work.”

Presenting such oppositions is a way for the artist to explore the Buddhist concept of the ‘middle way’ or moderation, a path which reconciles or transcends the duality between asceticism and indulgence.”