Addressing the Human Experience

Detail from "Trivia," oil on linen with gold leaf, 20in x 18in (2017)
02/07/2019

The solo exhibition, Silent Voices…Silent Rooms includes a total of 42 artworks by Robert Ernst Marx

Tall Pale and Interesting, oil on linen, 44in x 34in (2018)

The artwork of Robert Ernst Marx is intense. His paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures can seem dark and brooding with their somber colors and pale expressions. The ethereal figures seem to confront you with their gaze, but they are also looking for empathy. His intention with this body of work is to address the human experience, which at times can be a dark subject. Robert also wants to join in a dialogue with you as communicated through his artist’s statement: “The people I draw, paint and sculpt personify the human condition. They are also the people we see around us, every day. I work not only for myself, but also to make a connection with you. I do so as elegantly as I can and with an ambiguity that invites you to join your interpretation with my own.”

Robert and gallery director Bradley Butler in Robert’s studio

The solo exhibition, Silent Voices … Silent Rooms includes a total of 42 artworks and presents new paintings and drawings by the artist along with a small retrospective of his etchings, some of which date back to the early 1990s.The exhibition opens on Saturday, February 23 with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m., and will run through March 29, 2019 at Main Street Art Gallery in Clifton Springs.

Gallery director Bradley Butler first met Robert in October of 2013 after asking him to be in a group exhibition at a brand new gallery in Clifton Springs, NY. “I had just become the director and curator at Main Street Arts in March of that same year and while I had not yet fully found my footing in this role, I found the courage to email an artist whose work I admired,” said Bradley. “He welcomed me for a studio visit and agreed to be in the exhibition. Now almost six years later, Robert is represented by Main Street Arts as a gallery artist and we are excited to be mounting a solo exhibition of his work.” In 2017, Robert was also included in a two-person exhibition at Main Street Arts called Re-emerging Artists, with Hudson Valley area encaustic painter, John Greene.

Hildegarde, tuscan red pencil on paper, 6.5in x 6.5in (2018)

Robert was born in Germany in 1925 and moved with his family to the United States two years later. He has pursued a career as an artist since 1953 when he graduated with an MFA from the University of Illinois. He has shown his work internationally and is represented in major museum collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, Whitney Museum of Art, Memorial Art Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, among many others. He is a distinguished professor emeritus at SUNY Brockport where he taught printmaking for 20 years. Prior to settling in Rochester, he taught at the college level in Madison, WI; Flint, MI; Syracuse, NY; Binghamton, NY; and Boston, MA.

Robert Ernst Marx at the easel in his studio

“For me, the best experience when looking at a work of art is to look at something and just say ‘wow.’ That is, to be left speechless. This is something that Robert’s work has always done for me,” said Bradley. The work included in this exhibition gives a look at what has been on Robert’s mind as of late, through recent paintings and drawings, as well as a glimpse back at etchings from his own archive. “I invite you to be left speechless,” Bradley said about the upcoming exhibition. “To stand in front of artwork and just say ‘Yeah, this is good.’ because there’s nothing more you can say.”


Gallery hours during the exhibition will be 11a.m.–6p.m. Tuesday–Saturday and as always, entry to the gallery is free and open to the public. Main Street Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization and gallery showcasing contemporary art and fine craft from emerging and established artists. Find more information about this exhibition as well as other exhibitions and events on the gallery’s website: MainStreetArtsGallery.com.