My early education and eventual work as a theatrical scenic artist and production designer for film inform my work. Expressive paint techniques, developed on stage and in the studio, combined with my interest in narrative nurtured by my work in film are the defining characteristics of my work. Although I am most comfortable working on a large scale, which allows for the gesture of each mark to have a bodily reference, I have recently been focusing on producing smaller works.
The present series of portrait paintings, Criminals of the Ukraine, is representative of this change in focus. My intent is to try and establish a balance between the abstract and the representational while capturing and highlighting an extreme emotional state brought about by a rough interrogation of individuals for past crimes. Each figure is bounded by an abstract background that intensifies the emotional state of each subject.
The evolution of a painting within the context of a specific thematic series and by extension an entire body of work strengthens each individual painting. As my work progresses I have also become motivated by the personal psychological insights that result from the unintentional reoccurrence of various themes and stylistic marks.
Toby Corbett was born in London England and as a child immigrated to the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of the University of Washington where he studied painting with renowned artist Jacob Lawrence.
Corbett's skills as a painter led to an initial career in regional theatre as a scenic artist. After moving to New York City he started working as a scenic designer on numerous off Broadway productions. His work in the theatre later expanded to a successful career as a production designer for television and film. He has collaborated with a distinguished group of filmmakers including Kathryn Bigelow, Keifer Sutherland, Tracey Ullman, Jim McBride, John Sayles, Wayne Kramer, and Werner Herzog
Corbett has continued to work on his own artwork throughout his design career. In the last ten years he has been exhibiting his work in various galleries around Los Angeles. The Creative Arts Center, a large municipal gallery in Burbank California, gave him is first one man show in 2001. In 2006 he completed a residency at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in New York City.
Toby Corbett: http://www.tobycorbett.com