STUDIO LA PRIMITIVE
ERIC & ROBYN WERKHOVEN
Eric and Robyn Werkhoven have lived and worked as contemporary, professional artists in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia since 1988.
STUDIO LA PRIMITIVE was born in the beginning of their relationship in the early 80s, when they collaborated on a series of Art Brooches in Sydney.
Their involvement in the visual arts over this time has included participation in performance / event art, painting, sculpture, drawing, and textile design. They have also been involved in management of art galleries.
Both are award winning artists and have been Finalists in major Australian art prizes. Their work has been selected for national and international exhibitions.
Eric loves to draw, sculpt and write. Robyn also shares the love of drawing and is an established painter and arts writer.
In 2013 they established the online Arts & Literary Studio La Primitive ARTS ZINE, featuring artists' interviews, exhibitions, essays and poetry. In 2017 the State Library of New South Wales selected the digital publication to be preserved for lasting cultural value and for long-term access by the Australian community.
Eric and Robyn have individual art careers but together they exhibit under the title of Studio La Primitive. Their collaborative works are a celebration of every day life “exploring the world of human caprice, with sheer delight and a touch of irony”.
The artist’s individual styles are evident in the collaborative drawings and paintings.
Robyn’s passion for portraiture and figuration, and Eric’s stylised mythical beasts and human creatures, as is their shared attraction to bold colour and strong line. Their styles come together complementing each other and creating an innovative and exciting body of work, often evoking emotionally charged and confronting subjects.
INTRODUCTION – JOHN O’BRIEN
Award winning Film and TV script writer and patron of the Arts
On a metaphorical estate a metaphorical noblewoman designed a folly, a caprice, a ridiculous building, taller than the others, on a hill overlooking the garden.
Robyn and Eric moved into it, put a little sign on the door, La Capricciosa, and set to work. After all it was far and away the most interesting building – and had the best view to boot. There from the heart of their lives they fashioned their own clean yet chaotic yet carefully structured caprices, their own whimsies, their signature dishes and sports and passions, into sketches and sculptures and paintings that came from places deep within and observations deep without.
The senses of "caprice" multiplied in their hands. Caprice as whim, spur of the moment, glance, sidelong blow: the capricious-natured person driven in equal parts by hormones, dreams, the need to raise children, the odd godhead, the wrestle of life, eccentricity and peccadillo: the naughty sexy sudden rush of desire and devil-may-care energy: the random capricious consequences of war.
Knock on the door of La Capricciosa. Wander into the exhibition and immerse yourself in a world, a marriage, that is equal parts Grimm fairy story and real. Underneath the random sketchy qualities is careful structure. It's a place full of permissiveness, laughing at the voyeurs and artists, weeping at war, personifying the dance of family, built on breathless emotion, winking smiles, bold colour, and undercutting irony. It's all a parade, nothing is a device, intention is a bold step, like a boldly coloured animal, with unpredictable but mostly happy consequences.
If you're lucky you might be able to watch them work, through a window or a curtain. Someone has started a drawing, perhaps around a theme, such as Chasing The Ghost Of Religion. The other does a bit more, later in the day. (Perhaps Robyn adds a figure, while Eric is outside in the garden making one of his lightly monumental sculptures.) One might correct the other, while the other isn't looking. How's that for an act of trust? Eventually they agree that this pas de deux is over and Robyn colours it in.
Which is why I see their work as an expression of love. They are collaborators and resistance fighters but they are also lovers. The works they make together are themselves love-makings, and while they're at it, a dog or a bull happens to wander through the room, and there's a war on somewhere, and it's all very very beautiful.
John OBrien (C) 2011