Robin Savage is a history painter who combines various influences from the Global South to create paintings that stimulate the spirit and educate consciousness. A postcolonial/decolonial artist, Savage’s paintings combine modernist influences from various communities, particularly Irish and those of the Americas like the Chicanx murals he grew up within California and Arizona, and African American and Afro-Caribbean art that he engaged with while teaching in the American South for years. Making connections between these styles and modes, Savage creates art of New World allegories, dynamized in figural spaces that generate what he calls a “Creole vision.”
These paintings are part of Savage’s abstract painting mode, one that attempts to couple history painting and abstraction, and that follows a pattern of modified cubism for representational purposes learned from Irish women modernists Mainie Jellett, Evie Hone, and Mary Swanzey, and from other history painters like Jacob Lawrence, WPA painters, street muralists, and folk iconography.
These pieces also emphasize a different process for Savage. Breaking from drawing preliminary “sketches,” Savage creates paper collages of each composition, which he then paints in oil. The translation from the provisional composition in collage to the precision of oil transcription emphasizes the materiality of the paper pieces set against the permanence of an oil painting and moves the painting into a “realist” rendering of an abstraction.