It was right back in 2007 when we first started thumping any tub we could find to alert people to the talent of Supermundane, aka Rob Lowe. He has won a legion of admirers for his hyper-detailed, hyper-rewarding works but his new show at Kemistry Gallery sees his work go in an interesting new direction. Details is a collection produced by taking tiny areas of his drawings and simplifying them down to pure line and colour. Not only that, it will be exhibited as a Rob Lowe show rather than Supermundane, so we caught up with him to find out how and why this exciitng new project came about…
Hi Rob. Tell us about how this show came about? The work is very different to what people might know you for…
I’ve been working on these pieces for a few years now, but have only just started to show people them. I’ve always loved very simple, graphic, art but it’s impossible to do without a reason as it just becomes purely decorative. It wasn’t until I started looking at my own drawings in a more subjective manner that I realised that I could take tiny details from them and they would still retain the optical effects of depth and movement.
Then I refined them by reducing the amount of lines used and introduced colour. I’m really pleased with the results, it feels like the start of something that has many possibilities and that’s a really exciting place to be. This seems like a very natural progression from my more detailed work but I can understand people thinking it’s a big change. Personally I can see a direct link between this and my drawings – it will be interesting to see if people think the same.
How does it feel doing a show as Rob rather than Supermundane?
It feels right for this new direction. I wanted this way of working to stand apart from the Supermundane work and using my real name helps to do this. I reached that imaginary landmark of 40 last year and, while I hate to use the term “grown-up,” this new work does feel more serious.
Also, I have got over growing up in the 1980s and being called Rob Lowe, all those years of people saying “Like the actor?” every time I tell them my name. Although people do still do this.
“While I hate to use the term “grown-up,” this new work does feel more serious.”
What do you hope people come away with after seeing the show?
Well, I hope they like it. It’s quite scary putting on a first show of such minimalist work. There is a very strong visual language that runs though all the pieces and when it all comes together it should have quite an effect on the viewer.
All this new work is about movement, depth and everything being interconnected. There will always be some people that prefer the more detailed stuff because they will (wrongly) think there is more work involved, but I’m hoping that those people will be able to revisit the drawings and look more at the way they are constructed and see them in a new way.
What else are you working on atm?
I’ve got issue 11 of Fire & Knives to do which is always fun, lots of hand-lettering. I’m also off to Frankfurt with a load of illustrators to meet some other (German) illustrators for a show we are going to be doing for children later in the year – I’m not art directing Anorak magazine anymore so it will be nice to do some work for kids again.
I’ve got some other personal new work that I’ve been doing which I will show people soon and I’m, hopefully, bringing my poetry and music night Kibbo Kift to the Southbank for something put on by the National Theatre.
I really want to do some very large versions of the new work so I’ll be on the look out for opportunities to do that.
Details runs at the Kemistry Gallery, June 15 – June 30.