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:: Robert W. Fichter :: Photographer:: :: ::

Contemporary Images

Robert Fichter

educator, artist, and innovative photographer


At a Sharp Point of Focus: Shadows in the Light
by Kate Sullivan

Old friends finish our sentences. That much we know. Defining old friends, well, it requires more complexity, more thought. Defining a friend who has talent, who has a legacy of artistic achievement attached to his life, that is problematic. I've spent a few days mulling over this idea of a well-defined friendship. An enduring friendship with a colleague of mine started this idea and it is his fault. I'm not certain if anyone can define him. I'm not certain there is even a point to trying. Robert Fichter is elusive and yet, quite straightforward. He is funny. Not in that wear-my-lampshade-on-my-head funny. His wit is dry, his humor is often abstract. His work and his life are filled with innovation, with vexing and fused media. His art, for more than thirty years, represents what is emerging and possible, but not what already has been conceived and seen. Once called the Lone Cowboy of the Apocalypse, Fichter continues to walk tall in those boots. His art creates anarchy in viewers' heads.

In one of his recent paintings, one that currently hangs in a riverside home, a rather foreboding image dominates a wall. Robert Fichter's painting owns this wall. Appearing as if it takes up an acre of land, although it may only be six feet by five, it demands a viewpoint. This painting refuses to be ignored. It may require political perspective, it may require a stand one way or another about all important endeavors, but it certainly requires strength of purpose from a viewer. With smears of black paint adjusting waves of darkness against social injustice, a spotlighted commentary, in vivid, almost day-glo pop culture orange, the image speaks out on the topic of a recent Bosnian war, on harsh human landscapes, and on atrocities. The painting is strong. It is poignant. It will not be denied. It is in the room, like it or not.

:: Artist and Photographer Robert Fichter

soldier's gift
image by Robert Fichter

For biographical information on Robert Fichter and information on his current work, visit: Florida State Museum of Fine Arts.

  Soldier's Gift
Secondary title:
World War I Soldiers, 1970, 14"x18"
Courtesy of the Jerry Uelsmann Collection.

Another image, seen on this page and titled, "Soldier's Gift" brings raw emotion to this war, to all wars.

Topics brought to life by Fichter range from winged dogs and war to a comforting "cup-oh-Joe" reminding us that there was a time before Starbucks.

Other recent paintings, when viewed by both the novice and the nuanced, might evoke statements of comparison. "Oh, Chagall." Or, "Klimt."

Not close to being true. Until a viewer stands in front of a canvas and is able to clearly understand, and state, "Hmm. Fichter."--that viewer will be missing the point. The best reaction when seeing his work might be one that we have when we see a sink hole filled with a mangled carcass and from that, growing up from the open grave, an eggshell-colored rose. The antepenultimate comment about life, and our lives. Stark. Visceral.

And yet, his photographs of his own cat allow viewers to see not only whimsy and joy, but an acceptance, even an indulgence for the world's enlarged folly. Folly by cats. Folly surrounded by light, by ambient shadows, by historical and sentimental souvenirs of a life, a body of work, a man remarkable in his choices, in his pursuits, in his guidance and direction given generously to his students, his friends, and his family.

His students will tell you he has an honesty that might be considered abrupt and to the point. His critiques of his students' art fall into the "minimalist framework" and although he states his point with kindness, there are no chances to miss the point.

His wife, artist, dancer, and woman-in-motion will tell you that he alternately gives her freedom to work and second thoughts about practical matters. Nancy Smith Fichter has a few nicknames for Robert Fichter, and one of them is a term of endearment that coincides with what most wives often call their husbands. It's not flattering, but it is fun.

More than anything, Robert Fichter is fun. His art, however, offers a viewer no chance to miss the point. Neither his life nor his art offers any easily categorized or defined answers. And that is the point.

:: Robert W. Fichter and CupOhJoe

Cup.oh.Joe by Robert W. Fichter

Credit Photos and Images: Robert W. Fichter


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