Inspired by seven simple affirmations received from his mother-in-law a few years ago, Charleston painter Robert Lange hopes to inspire Holy City creatives of all kinds with his new Affirmations collection.
“Something about her simple and wonderful declarations stuck with me,” Lange explains. “So I decided to take inventory of those people in my life — be it close friends, family, or acquaintances — and examine the role that each of them play as teacher, aiding me in becoming a more balanced and aware individual.”
The paintings will involve a variety of genres including still-life, landscape, figurative, portraiture, and surreal narratives. “My hope is to examine someone I care about and look for even the smallest moment to represent the type of character they exemplify,” says Lange.
One of Lange’s favorite paintings in the show depicts his wife, sister, and mother-in-law floating on a bright blue ocean background. “I initially posed them on my driveway,” Lange says. “And as the imagery came together, I realized the importance of this piece. Here are three of the most intrinsically powerful women that I know in one place … and that was pretty cool.”
Another favorite for the precise and surreal painter is “I Am Free to Believe.” The bright and whimsical painting depicts Lange’s brother-in-law laying on his back on the wing of a plane in mid-flight, holding his son in the air above him. “I remember watching my nephew JD’s face as his father held him in the Superman position,” Lange describes. “There was so much joy emanating from his eyes, it was obvious that he felt as if he was really flying.”
During the creative process, Lange received his own affirmation that he was headed in the right direction during a trip with his wife to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Thailand.
Unfortunately, the Langes were joined at the temple by 5,000 tourists. “They just covered the place,” he says, laughing. “And I was kind of annoyed — here you had these beautiful monks surrounded by fat Westerners.”
That’s when Lange saw the inspiration for this show’s kingmaker. “I look over and there’s a monk … swamped by people, yet standing still, focused and calm in the midst of a crowd,” Lange remembers. “I immediately thought about my mother-in-law’s affirmation about serenity in the midst of chaos. This monk exemplified her affirmation and really sealed my decision to finish the project.”
The format of an affirmation reflects Lange’s continued desire to spread positivity to his audience, hence the plus sign tattoo on his left wrist. “I feel that all art sends a message, and I’d like to add a little goodness to the world,” Lange says. “Positivity is what my wife and I decided on at the beginning. All things good. I was a math major — focused on quantum physics. Every action has a reaction. We thought that we’d open a gallery to propel the positive.”
Lange’s show is also designed to reinforce the viewer’s personal evaluation of his or her own positive character traits. “When someone walks through a room of uplifting paintings, my hope is they experience a sense of levity that they may bring out into the world,” Lange continues. “Our number one goal is to nurture creativity. It could be that someone is inspired by our work and then goes home to make banana bread. We want to be a creative channel.”
And Lange can see when it happens. “There are so many people that don’t think that they’re creative, and then they try something,” Lange says. “The next time I see them, there’s a light in their eyes. There’s a magnetism surrounding a passion. And a lot of times, your day job doesn’t do it.”