Robert Wallace





Letting Go


Everyone is familiar with the George Berkeley philosophical question about the tree falling in the forest.  What about artwork in a storage facility?  If the work of an artist is locked in a 5 X 7 X 8-foot storage space for 10 years, does it exist?


I have decided it doesn’t.  Artwork in storage is essentially invisible.  The Museum of Modern Art might have a superb Picasso painting in its collection.  But that painting only exists if it is on view in one of the museum galleries.  Artwork is meant to be seen.  If no one can see it, including the artist, then the artwork serves no purpose.


Since 2012 I have been paying rent on a small storage space in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  I closed my studio in December of that year and moved 98 paintings plus various art tools and supplies into this space.  This was supposed to be temporary, as most storage is.  I was leaving New York after 17 years.  I wasn’t sure where exactly I was going at the time.  But I thought I would retrieve the contents of the storage space after settling in my new home.  My new home was (and still is) Kyoto, Japan.  I realized after a few years that transporting my art to Kyoto was pretty much impossible.  So I dutifully paid the rent, month after month, year after year and tried not to think about it.


But recently I started thinking about it.  Not only is this a financial strain/drain, but also a mental and emotional one.  It has become a never-ending aggravation.  Inescapable, and also completely pointless.  In my perhaps overly optimistic view of my career arc these paintings would be needed for a future retrospective at a major museum.  I can no longer wait for that day.  I’m done.


So, I’m letting go.  I am abandoning the storage space in January 2023.  December, 2022 will be my final rent payment.  10 years and thousands of dollars.  I imagine after a couple of months of non-payment the storage company will take control and the contents of the unit will either be trashed or go to auction.


This is desperate.  Sure.  But this is not a plea for financial aid.  Nor is it a publicity stunt.  This is a generous, once in a lifetime offer: the entire contents of my storage space, 16 years of work – for free ($408k estimated value)!   I invite you to have a look at my portfolio (1997-2012).  You will see there are some damn good paintings in there.


I’m afraid the logistics of retrieving the artwork from Brooklyn is on you.  I will happily help in any way I can.  But as I mentioned, some 11,000 kilometers separate Kyoto and Brooklyn.  I can’t manage this undertaking from such a distance.


This is a rescue mission with a not insignificant reward.  If you care to be a part, please contact me.



Robert Wallace





33 cover



I am pleased to announce I am featured in the latest issue of 33, the biannual literary journal devoted to the Checklist.  It is published by Edition Haus am Gern in Switzerland and has a limited run of 100.  Each journal contains 15 loose-leaf Checklists and one color photograph.  Purchase it directly from the publisher for CHF 16.


This issue includes two old New York friends: artist Daniel Joseph and poet Fork.  Daniel is an early advocate of the form, developing it with Checklist creator Brian Moran.  Fork is responsible for introducing the Checklist to Europe and organizing the publication of 33.







The Kyoto Shimbun | 京都新聞

April 16, 2022

(Japanese only)








This is the trailer for the short film included in the (four)est exhibition.







(four)est info.





an art collaboration with Nature by Robert Wallace


April 4, 2018 – April 4, 2022

Kyoto: Kuta | Keihoku | Kameoka | Miyama



April 13 - 21, 2022

be-kyoto gallery, Kyoto



I am pleased to announce (four)est has been selected by Kyotographie to be included in their satellite event KG+.


I have long been inspired and influenced by the unsolicited and involuntary art collaborations between Mother Nature and Man.  A concrete wall or corrugated steel siding stained by rain and wind and sun and time.  Without a brush or pigment or any artist tool whatsoever Nature creates incredible pictures from and upon the most mundane man-made objects.


I can’t say what first drew me to these “found paintings”.  Perhaps it was the absolute randomness of the design, the sort of wabi-sabi essence, completely free of intent.  Maybe it was the furtive and clever subversion of man’s vainglorious and stupid constructions.  Maybe it was a secret joy, the pleasure I got from discovering such pictures in my day-to-day travels that few others would notice or be interested in.


For years I have aspired to emulate these beautiful, natural artworks that have evolved over decades, sometimes centuries.  It is futile and consequently humbling.


So after more than 25 years of painting I decided to collaborate directly with Nature.  The idea was to paint four pictures and then pass them on to Her to do what She does without direction or influence from me.


The four paintings loosely represent the four seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall), the four points of the compass (north, south, east and west) and the four elements (fire, water, air and earth).  These are the forces that act upon and shape both the natural and manmade world.  In the spring of 2018 these paintings were left in the forests of Kuta, Keihoku, Kameoka and Miyama in northern Kyoto.  Each season I ventured into the forests and documented the changes with photos and video.  Now, four years later, the pictures are being repatriated to civilization and an exhibition is being held.


My motivation for this project is in part a fervent belief that the most beautiful art made by the most talented artists is always somehow inferior to the creations of Nature.  The real beauty of the world is often just beyond our doorstep.



「(four)est」は Kyotographie 京都国際写真祭 2022の サテライトイベントKG+に選ばれました お知らせいたします。















Robert Wallace

January 2018 (revised February 2022)







I was recently asked by be-kyoto gallery to talk about their unique art rental program (MARS) on NHK TV Japan.

Click on the image below to see the program on the NHK website.  It is the second half of the program beginning at 3:15.  Japanese only - sorry.







endless postcard front


endless postcard reverse




paintings by Robert Wallace


February 20 – March 4, 2021

be-kyoto gallery, Kyoto




Everything has a beginning and an end: a meal, a movie, a sports match, a tree in the forest, human life. The word “endless” then is something of an oxymoron, an impossibility.


The idea of an endless painting came to me a few years ago when I saw a video of artist Robert Rauschenberg’s monumental work, “The ¼ Mile”. Composed of a 190 giant panels it seems to go on and on.


Paintings, of course, have edges – top, bottom, right, left. They are linear, defined by their boundaries. However, what if a series of paintings, when arranged side by side, formed a circle? A circle, or ring is endless. There is no beginning or end.


The circle is, of course, a profound mystical symbol representing wholeness, heaven, eternity and the universe. It is also a natural, physical phenomenon. The sun and the moon are circular. So are water ripples and tree rings.


When an artist draws a circle the gesture has a beginning and an end. But the line does not. It is not two points, but one.


This series of paintings is not a true circle. The surfaces of the paintings are flat not curved, and there are gaps between each piece. The paintings are all individual, all very different. But, like siblings in a family, there is connectivity. 1 is connected to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, etc. Then 21 back to 1.


It is the connectivity of a circle that interests me. This is connected to that. The first to the last. Around and around. No past, no future. A circle is now.







数年前、アメリカの美術家ロバートラウシェンバーグの代表作「The ¼ Mile」を見た時にこのendless の絵のアイデアは思いつきました。190もの数で構成された巨大パネルはまるで永遠と続いていくようでした。













Robert Wallace

January 2021 (Kyoto)


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