Robert Royhl: Voids and Blooms

07.14.2022 – 08.21.2022

Charles M. Bair Family Gallery & Northwest Projects Gallery

“The world lost a great artist when Robert Royhl, aged 72, died in Bozeman on January 12, 2022. We were particularly fortunate to have him among us in Montana for the better part of 35 years. His vivid surreal landscapes of the Northern Rockies, Yellowstone and the Missouri Headwaters are among the most significant representations of these places ever made. At the same time, these paintings, in Royhl’s words, ‘travel along the outer edges of the visible spectrum toward the unseen.’ They are meant to expand perception beyond the literal, both for the artist and for us.

A true visionary with transcendent aims for his art, Robert Royhl skillfully melded imagination and creative invention with objective observation and techniques learned from the European Old Masters and contemporary traditional Japanese painters. The energized perceptual fields of his intricately colorful paintings teem with figures, plants and mysterious beings that are animated and mutable in multiple physical, temporal and spiritual dimensions. Robert Royhl once said: ‘The job of the artist is the reenchantment of the world.’ There is no better way to describe what he accomplished.”  —Gordon McConnell

The story of Robert Royhl’s artistic life is seeded in the dry, parched earth of the Sonoran Desert. Upon arriving in Tucson with his family in 1954, he recalls the awakening he experienced when stepping out of the car– the sensation of bare feet against burning pavement and describes the experience as his “dramatic introduction to the desert world, a baptism by fire.”

The Sonoran Desert, in all its ecology and spiritual power, became the place he felt most at home –his primal landscape. Unrestrained expressions of what passed in his dreams, ideas, diagrams, and concepts fill his sketchbooks and worked their way into his art. Working with a mixture of materials and techniques, Royhl continually experimented. Even the traditional method of Japanese woodblock printing was altered by soaking the backside of the paper and applying ink that would visually interact with the denser inks applied on the frontside by the woodblock. Referring to his work with a Japanese silk screen kit called Gocco, he wrote, “I love messing around with this machine and as the inks dry up all sorts of accidental blooms and voids take place that I find enchanting.”

The upcoming exhibition, Voids and Blooms, is created in collaboration with Associate Professors of Art History and Art at Montana State University in Bozeman, Melissa Ragain and Rollin Beamish. The exhibition seeks to explore Royhl’s development by selecting works from his forty years of developing real-world narratives into a structure of floating planes and passing elements. By merging realism, and diagrammatic depictions of ideas with his black paper subconscious images, a visual language is mastered.

After graduating with an MFA from the University of Arizona, Royhl taught at the Tucson Art School, and San Diego State before landing in Bozeman, where he taught as a Professor of Art at Montana State University from 1987 to 2006.


exhibition sponsors

Gareld Krieg
Deborah Anspach & Dr. John Hanson


related events

Exhibition Opens, July 14.

Summer Art Studio: Abstract Dreamscapes , July 21, (Session 1: 10 AM – Noon & Session 2: 1 – 3 PM): In this Thursday session, combine multiple techniques to create abstract dreamscapes based on work by Robert Royhl in the Voids and Blooms exhibition. Ages 5-12.

Enjoy a reception for the exhibition, August 4, 6 PM.