Years ago, when Phil Robinson was concentrating mainly on painting and drawing, he took a finished canvas, stretched it around a cylinder frame and placed it on its side. The only way you could see the entire painting was when the thing was rolling toward you. That piece tells you a lot about how Robinson works. His pieces are humorous, but they also pack a punch, particularly when they engage his signature themes: manufactured desire, symbols of social success, suburban nightmares and urban angst. Recent works employ the iconography of food and shelter to dismantle the American "dream." His elongated white milk cartons and steel layer cakes "frosted" with Afros are a tour de force. Robinson loves puns, double-entendres and malapropisms; he's masterful at giving them visual form. His new works take on the rhetoric of the road: "Sitting Arrow" is a life-size reverse-turn arrow that alludes to Native Americans; a series of shadow boxes is titled "Driving While Black." Robinson teaches painting and drawing at UM-St. Louis, but sculpture is the medium where his incisive ideas take their finest shape.
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