With animals as protagonists of his narratives, at first glance Robert Bissell's paintings seem to come straight out of a children's book. However, a closer examination will reveal a much deeper meaning that strongly reflects the power of nature.
Touched by surrealism, Bissell's work creates an atmosphere that compels the viewer to ask questions and look at the world from a different perspective. Influenced by the surreal legacy of Magritte, he likewise mixes scales and uses gigantism with a variety of textures and subtle color palettes. His paintings reflect upon the environment and raise an awareness of our surroundings.
Bissell's paintings reveal his countryside influences of growing up in rural Somerset England. Raised on a farm with sheep, pigs, cows, and rabbits, animals were a part of his daily life.
Inspired to capture the beauty around him, he studied at the Manchester College of Arts and Technology for his bachelor's degree in photography. He then ventured on to London where he was one of six selected out of 560 applicants to attend the Royal College of Art and received his Masters in Fine Art Photography.
After completing his studies, Bissell spent a brief period teaching photography on a cruise ship while taking the opportunity to travel around the world. A short time later The Sharper Image offered him a job; and for the next decade, he climbed the corporate ladder. Successful, but not content, he decided to give up his status and start his own catalog company in Portland, Oregon.
Throughout his career nature had always held great importance for Bissell. He soon realized that his catalogs wasted far too much paper and decided to explore possibilities of sharing his views in a new way. Studying drawing and sketching in college gave him the confidence and determination to learn oil painting and rediscover himself as an artist. Currently residing in Northern California, he can follow his new dream of creating his views of nature to share with others.
Whimsical yet powerful, Bissell's pieces effectively illustrate a consciousness of the world around us. Using animals that like to stand on two feet, a common ground is established. The background settings derive from Romantic era landscape paintings intended to idealize a world in which man was in total harmony with nature. This false vision executes the intention to elevate the animal's importance and disarm the viewer at the same time. Bissell's artistic aspiration is that his paintings appeal to the intellectual child in all of us and create a narrative that represents qualities such as compassion, fear, vitality or curiosity. Often-times he incorporates scenes of animals on trails or roads foreshadowing a journey that lies ahead. This encourages us to reflect upon nature as well as the choices we make and the roads we travel.
Representing real and imaginary, Bissell has recently been focusing strictly on landscapes that seek out a sense of sublime, stillness, and peace. Exhibiting his work across the United States, Bissell has truly grown as an accomplished artist in a short period of time. With new ideas to explore each day, his creative mind never rests.
Lahaina Galleries is proud to represent the paintings of Robert Bissell, an extraordinary talent with a brilliant imagination.