For the last five months, Rob Croxford has become obsessed with scouring thrift stores and junk shops, and probably reduced himself to the odd bout of dumpster diving in his pursuit of random little pieces of stuff to add to his art. After the opening of his current show “Arcade,” he is determined to take a break from what he had begun to call “the thrill of the chase.”
Croxford has been painting his own version of retro pulp for the last five years. After his Tin Toy Series of paintings, which feature toy robots inspired from the 50’s vision of the future, he was commissioned by the Space Channel to create a painting of an antique pin-ball machine. His research for the project revealed to him the subversively expressive creative passion lurking behind these seemingly benign time-wasting machines. Like the lit-up fortune beside your last score, Croxford found that the theme of each machine was a pretty reliable cultural barometer for the oppression of the times.
In keeping with the fear du jour, Croxford’s past-time of searching out found materials to create his machine mock-ups was born from his clandestine effort to comment on our preoccupation with society’s contemporary environmental incubus. Like the creators of the machines from the past, Croxford is affording the viewer the chance to derive a deeper meaning from his works. That said, also like his pinball mentors, he seems quite content for his work to be appreciated on the level of pure entertainment. In fact, he readily admits to the apparent irony of his cheeky inclusion of electric lights animating many of the works.
The use of random materials including bits of wood, old roller-blade wheels and various unidentifiable objects on several of the works is Croxford’s first foray into mixed media. Until now, his passion for the past has manifested exclusively in the form of numerous paintings, which cast a consistently criticalyet often loving eye on days gone by. His extensive research and practice withinthe genre often render his paintings so convincing that it’s hard to believe that none of the imagery is copied directly from reference materials. That said, if his technique of aging his paintings gets any better, he may be able to sell them as antiques if they don’t sell as quickly as the last 300 did in the art market.
Despite this inarguable evidence of recent success and his obvious grasp of his chosen genre, Croxford is still critical of what he perceives as his artistic downfalls. His negative appraisal of his drawing ability motivates him to stray into the 21st century by manipulating his sketches on Photoshop before bringing them onto boards or canvas. Unsurprisingly, this former theatre set decorator sees his technical strengths resting in his use of shape and colour.