Robert Owen is an Australian artist who uses several media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and photography. His long, successful career in art began when he studied sculpture at the National Art School in Sydney, graduating with honours in 1962. Since then Owen has gone on to exhibit both in Australia and overseas, living and working in Greece in the early 1960s and London until 1975. Robert Owen currently resides and works in Melbourne, Australia.
Owen is particularly interested in the potentially expressive qualities of space, colour, materials, light and shadow as devices and vehicles for carrying thoughts, concepts, and ideas linked to the experience of presence and poetic response. There is no desire for a narrative, yet neither do his works exist purely as formal composition. His 2005 Sunrise #3 (from his Origami series) is a vibrant, geometric work that spans several walls. It can be flipped, inverted, and moved to create new compositions, creating a kinetic, ever-changing perceptual field, allowing for a breadth of new responses.
Solo exhibitions of Owen’s work include Burano Colour Works, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (1979); Trace of a Silent Bell, Palais du Rhin, Strasbourg France (1988); Sunrise, Pyo Gallery, Seoul, Korea (1992); and Different Lights Cast Different Shadows, The 2nd Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project, Art Gallery of New South Wales (2004). Notably, he represented Australia (with John Davis and Ken Unsworth) at the 38th Venice Biennale in 1978, and was awarded the John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition 7 UK Prize in 1969. More recently Owen received the Australian Council Visual Arts/Crafts Emeritus Award in 2003, for his service to the visual arts.
Robert Owen has also been commissioned for a number of works in public spaces, often working with acclaimed architects. With the Webb Bridge project in Melbourne, which received international acclamation and awards, Owen collaborated with Denton Corker Marshall. The work was inspired by an Aboriginal eel trap.