Robert Howson,Visual Artist
N.J. Britton

Robert Howson was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario and moved to Guelph after attending Lambton College
and the University of Windsor in the visual arts programs. Since moving to Guelph Howson has devoted
himself to his craft. Initially his art was a combination of found objects placed together in a variety of mediums.
TARGETS, is a culmination his talent and demonstrates the clarity and maturity he brings to his work.

In TARGETS Howson provides a provocative view of the nagging truth about firearms–
their primary purpose is to kill.
This collection of visual images is based on the human silhouette commonly used at firing ranges.
This human 'figure' has been silkscreened on paper with flesh toned anatomical parts screened over the silhouette.
By combining these realistic anatomical drawings with the abstract image of the human form, Howson provides
a stark contradiction of ideologies. This exhibition is an examination of the reality of firearms use and the
basic human desire for safety and security.

In speaking with Robert Howson you may draw the conclusion that he is apolitical but he states quite the opposite.
When questioned about his position on firearms and gun controls he responded that, "I am certainly not apolitical
but my point is not to make a personal protest or even make my position known but to provide and encourage an
opportunity for the audiences of my work to examine their own views about firearms. My position is irrelevant.
All I want to do is present my view of the realities of gun use on the human body and let the viewer respond to the
visual stimuli and then examine their own response to the work."

With public awareness about gun use and controls at a peak, his most recent work seems timely. I asked Howson
where his ideas originate. "My idea for this series came to me through observation of our culture and
my own experience. I tend to observe cultural trends and public response to highly political or publicized issues.
In the past I have focused on sex, sexuality, and their inter-relationships. This newest series is a departure
from the concentration I have had on other areas and a desire to investigate new mediums."

While viewing this exhibit I questioned Howson as to who has influenced his art. Howson mentioned painter
Francis Bacon whose use of fleshtones and distortion of the human body intrigued his sense of creativity.
"American photographer Andre Serrano has created some of the most controversial works on the
American art scene - he is a artist I admire for both his ingenuity and his courage to stretch the limits.
Louise Bourgeois, an American artist who specializes in sculpture and installation art has
also influenced my work" reported Howson.

TARGETS is Robert Howson's sixth solo exhibition and while the previous shows focused on sex,
sexuality and the human form this exhibit appears to be more political and stronger in its presentation
than his previous work. A must see for all concerned about humanity and our future.

TARGETS showed at the Art-in-Guelph Gallery From August 12, September 4, 1999

View TARGETS virtual show on