Surrendering to painting is Rob Ober’s primary obsession and focus when creating art in his Connecticut studio, which is interestingly a former schoolhouse. In his day-to-day life, Ober teaches American, Chinese, and Russian history to prep school students who know little to nothing about his wilder artistic side. It’s an interesting dichotomy to share historical knowledge and personal memories from growing up abroad in the USSR, India, and Greece with his classes, and then unleash a very fertile and hardcore imagination in private at the studio.

Allowing himself the freedom to completely release when in action, both physically and mentally, sets the stage for Ober's paintings to come to life in a frenetic, nearly shamanistic blur. A deep spiritual experience and a strong physical connection to his works as they unfold is key to the success of any painting in his eyes. The final images and compositions are wholly intuitive and often surprising even to the artist, which is striking given the rarity of anyone truly astonishing themselves these days.

Many of the figures depicted in Ober’s recent paintings are seen in a surrender position, meaning their arms are lifted high above their heads. The gesture feels submissive, but there is still an air of confrontation as the subjects possess wild, glowing eyes full of mischief. Beyond the waving of arms and hands in the air, there are often characters with legs split unnaturally akimbo or with starkly toppled heads, further signs of a complete submission. All of these humans and creatures (imagine a deity-like giant frog) seem to accept whatever fate awaits them, whether it is being devoured by a mouth full of gaping teeth or lost in an endless expanse of chaotic energy.

While there is no certainty as to what, or who is being submitted to in Rob Ober’s new paintings, this adds an abstract and strangely poetic quality to the scenes. Perhaps the works function as a grand gesture of conceding to this world and the larger universe, both of which will do with us as they please, or maybe it is more simply just a reminder to surrender to our core intuition and gut instincts in everything we do. Within this motif, there is a duality present as some surrender to euphoria while floating through smiley faces, suns, and explosive skies, and others give in to hardships and uncertainty.

Rob Ober (b. 1968, Wiesbaden, West Germany) currently lives and works in Kent, Connecticut. He has recently exhibited at galleries such as GNYP (Berlin, DE); Shrine (NY, NY); PM/AM, (London, UK); Stems Gallery (Paris, FR) and James Barron Art (Kent, CT). His works have been featured in Artnet, Vulture, and many other publications.