Throughout the last decade, Robert Novel completed over one hundred and fifty paintings in a limited palette ranging from white to soft gray to black, often incorporating raw canvas or linen as a compositional element of the work. The nuance and rawness of the visible linen or canvas contrasts the flat application of pigment and the strength of the geometric forms. Novel’s reflection on geometric abstraction and the unfolding experimentation of a single variation from one painting to the next brings a deep feeling of calm, and the repetition of visual motifs becomes a performance.
With a background in sculpture and a love for minimalist forms, refined architectural spaces, and modern design, Novel was influenced by artists of the Light & Space movement and the reductive qualities of the painters of the Washington Color School when he arrived in Washington in the late 1960s.
Robert Novel (American, 1943-2021) was born in New York City, studied painting and sculpture at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and printmaking at the Printmaker’s Workshop in Washington DC. He participated in Art Now 74 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where he collaborated with artist Robert Irwin on the installation of a site-specific work. The following year in 1975, a solo show at Hard Art Gallery in Washington, DC featured Novel’s sculpture and video art, and his sculpture was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In 1976, he participated as a member of the Sponsors Committee for the opening of P.S. 1 in Long Island City, New York. Novel’s work was exhibited at P Street Gallerie, Washington DC in the exhibition Translation Not Required in 2015, and at Gensler Architects, Washington DC in 2016.