Robert Young was born in Vancouver in 1938. He graduated from UBC with a B.A. in art history in 1962. He taught painting and drawing at UBC from 1982 to 1998. He has had solo exhibitions at Simon Fraser University and The Evergreen Centre, the Burnaby Art Gallery (2009), the Vancouver Art Gallery (1989), the Charles H. Scott Gallery (1984), Confederation Centre Art Gallery (1981), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1980), the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (1979) and the Glenbow Museum (1977). Young’s art imaginatively reconstructs experience as a kind of allegorical collage, in which realistically painted or drawn objects compete for the viewer’s attention with images pilfered from art history. His paintings are nominally still lifes that depict living-room interiors, flights of stairs, scenes half glimpsed through urban windows, and fruit and flowers. Their ostensible realism is repeatedly disrupted by visual quotations from the work of other artists, and by jarring shifts in medium. Oil is juxtaposed with chalky gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil, and silvery graphite.
Robert Young is a scholar of printmaking. Combining etching with linocut and woodblock printing techniques, Sampler revisits imagery he employed in the past including a striding figure which cites a William Blake engraving of 1793, The Traveller Hasteth in the Evening, as well as figures borrow from Edward Lear and Marc Chagall. Juxtaposed with the Dutch word for ‘foreward’. It’s difficult to read these images as anything other than a critique of our unexamined, headlong commitment to technological progress. The dandelion harks back to a time when we looked to the plant for healing and renewal. Sampler manages to be refelctive rather than didactic, evocative rather than doctrinaire. It expands our understanding rather than constraining it and, not incidentally, it is also a thing of beauty.