Robert Collins was born in Gloucestershire in 1952 and educated at Gloucestershire College of Art and the Royal College of Art in Kensington.
He is a versatile painter working mostly in oil and expressing himself with equal conviction in landscape, still life and sometimes portrait, interiors and architectural subjects. All these become vehicles for the expression of light, space and atmosphere but despite their realism they all have an essential underlying abstract structure with finely balanced judgements of colour, shape and composition.
Since 1984 Rob has been represented by The Francis Kyle Gallery where he has had five one-man-shows and contributed to seventeen group shows.
In 1981 Rob was a founder member of Red Herring Studios in Brighton, a group studio set up and run by 27 artists and craftspeople. In 1989 he moved back to Gloucestershire where he now lives and works. In 2003 he helped set up Under the Edge Arts, a thriving community arts project. He teaches painting and art history. In August 2009 Rob spent an hour on the ‘Fourth Plinth’ as part of Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Other’ project. He used his hour to paint the view across Trafalgar Square. He is a devoted countryman with a love of nature, he has always been interested in the process of seeing and of recording what he sees in paint.
In 2005 John Russell Taylor, art critic for the Sunday Times wrote:
"Some of his very best, most vivid landscapes tackle head-on the eye-tiring, colour-sapping light of the noon day sun. Maybe only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in it, but if so Collins's sorties have proved amazingly fruitful. The colour may seem to have drained from The Wildflower Meadow, or The Light on the River to have eliminated richness and complexity along with shade. But the effect is superficial. Look again and you will see the delicacy with which the unseen sun is evoked, the way that every sparkle on the water is made to tell, the way the white flowers in the meadow crane above the grasses drawn inexorably by the light we otherwise hardly register.
All this might seem to be marginal to a painter who figures primarily in this exhibition as a master of still life. But in fact it is crucial. For Collins is first and foremost a master of light. This has, of course, been true of every genius of the still life, from Sanchez Cotan to William Nicholson. The table top on which the fruit and vegetables, the flowers, the game are arranged becomes the great stage of the world in microcosm. And like every stage it needs dressing and lighting. Collins paints what he sees (he is one of the few contemporary landscape artists who believes passionately and completely in plein-air painting), but he puts endless thought and trouble into selecting what he sees, and where possible arranging it with mathematical precision. Not that mathematics has much perceptible to do with these vibrant images of places and things. The pictures seem so inevitable that surely they must just have happened. But if, on consideration you believe that, you will believe anything.
These are pictures which are thought as well as felt. It is tribute to the artist's skill that to us the emotional response seems to be the primary consideration. But look more closely at Still Life with Oranges or Green Jug with Anemones. Do you imagine that the intricately pleated, Fortuny-like fabric upon which the oranges and gourds rest came there without conscious choice, of its texture as well as its glowing colour? Or that the meticulous placing of that wrinkle in the foreground of the peasant fabric upon which the green jug rests is not the most cunning suggestion of casualness imaginable? Collins has a passionate feeling for the organic, for the sensuous touch of a petal or a rind. His pictures seem to live and breathe before us. Nature he loves, and next to Nature, Art. Wait, I think I mean that in reverse. But then, does it ultimately matter, when nature and art are so intimately bound up together".