Johnny Robles’ pieces are like mementos from the natural world that go beyond the concrete and traffic in the busy city of Miami, Fla. Much like the flora and fauna act on instinct, so does Robles, allowing himself to explore his pieces from the inside out.
“In some ways, working backwards is best for me,” he said. “I find this way of working natural [because] it influences reason and my decisions.”
Taking inspiration from nature “pulls back the curtain and reveals the real picture for me, whether in water or on land,” Robles said.
This pull toward the remoteness that Thoreau sought out in Walden Pond has given Robles an appreciation for the explosion of culture that Miami boasts of, one that is easily reached through a short journey through the spectrum of urbanity.
“It can seem like a mirage… it goes through urban changes so quickly,” he said. “This dynamism definitely impacts the way I think and work, even though I’d prefer to live and create someplace remote, the nature and solitude outside of this city is not far away.”
Not adhering to one specific medium for art, Robles is guided by his own emotions.
“I choose specific materials by what feelings they evoke for me at the moment, not only by what the image will become,” he said.
That strong guidance can make adapting to working within the unknown a little bit easier.
“For instance, I’ll set myself up with parameters and start building a frame from wood, and then I’ll explore what should go inside,” he said. “In the end, the frame might, or might not, exist.”
Recently, he put this practice of leaving his comfort zone into full effect during his trip to Uruguay.
“[That] has always made things a little torturous but exciting – experimenting without setting myself with questions, with whatever means possible,” Robles said.
With Robles’ continual reference to his primary inspiration for creation, I found myself likening his own thought process to that of a sprout, just blossoming into its predestined plant -- A plant that constantly and continuously grows taller, even if there is only a shred of sunlight available.
“The unexplainable determination for spiritual growth and self discovery” propels the pursuit of his passion.
Much like his muse, stripping his process of all extraneous nuances can make the final product all the more beautiful simply because of its, well, simplicity.
“Sometimes too many tools, materials and machines can bring more complexity into producing work and can [cause it] to lose its original spirit: simple and instinctive,” he said.
This year holds much in store for Robles. Without giving anything away as we wait in anticipation, he assured me that “It will be something different personally, exploring possibilities with new materials for work that will aim to engage viewers through multi sensory experiences.”