Exhibit: ‘Bowie’ painter embraces many different styles

Into the Fray, by Rob Shaw.
Into the Fray, by Rob Shaw.

Resident Staithes Gallery artist Rob Shaw has never been one to rest on his proverbial laurels.

A popular artist who has enjoyed great success over many years, he often frustrates those who enthusiastically follow his work by changing his approach as soon as any particular style begins to enjoy success.

Breakwater, yellow sky, by Rob Shaw.

Breakwater, yellow sky, by Rob Shaw.

Al Milnes, owner of Staithes Gallery, where Rob has shown his work for more than a decade, said: “I always think Rob is the painter equivalent of David Bowie.

“I was a huge Bowie fan and still am.

“Looking back, I like all the different musical styles he embraced throughout his career but at the time I remember often feeling a little left behind.

“As soon as I started to enjoy what he was doing, he seemed to move on to something else. A few years ago, Rob was known for highly colourful paintings, mainly of the village, characterised by bright red rooftops and dreamy Prussian blue skies.

I always think Rob is the painter equivalent of David Bowie.

Al Milnes, owner, Staithes Gallery

“They were hugely popular in the gallery then suddenly he abandoned them.”

After a brief, and again successful, period creating large cityscapes of cities around the world, Rob returned to Staithes and Whitby for his inspiration and began making moody images in monochrome of wild and stormy seas crashing against breakwaters.

After several winter seasons spent observing the waves assaulting the Yorkshire coast, his mind was filled with images of sturdy piers and breakwaters weathering all the North Sea at its fiercest could hurl at them. In time (perhaps because the work reflected something of the mood of the times, the social and political life of the country buffeted by uncertainty and change) art-lovers came to agree and the wild black-and- white seascapes are highly popular.

Rob’s latest series, Bright Skies, brings back colour in a big way, huge swathes of it creating vivid sky and seascapes with minimal references, recognizable to anyone familiar with his work, to fishing boats and breakwaters, but also incorporating some abstract elements that create powerful mood and feeling.

Rob paints in oils on canvas attached to strong boards that can withstand a vigorous application of paint.