Robert James Zehnder

The noise of the 20th century still lingers. The spirit of that time was competitive and on a linear track. This resulted in the development of maps, rulebooks, and methodologies in psycho-analytics. The meta-modern approach is to reconfigure these moments into a web or a network.

One of my biggest prompts for this thought is to unlock and break down Francis Picabia’s later paintings that consisted of layering the contour of a portrait over a separate scene. Now seen to be a funny early 20th century dada or surrealist move, I believe this work has a lot of prophetic properties: most directly, the ‘meta’ or multi-dimensional layering of the portrait.

The portrait becomes more and more metaphysical as technology advances. Energy is spent observing multitudes or plurals and not the unitary whole. Like a gestalt therapy test, many images are found in one, which reflects the many personalities or psychologies in one image, view, or object.

My practice is generated through intersections of portrait, abstraction, psychology, and image associations.



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago -2015



-Hide and Go CHIC – Rover Gallery, Chicago
-Le Temps Detruit Tout @ Land – Kansas City, Missouri -Life is a Joke Death is the Punch Line
Organized by Sarah Kim – NYC
-Motel Show – Outhouse Gallery and Comb Gallery

Milwaukee, WI (Artist + Co-Curator)
-Bobby Zehnder at Laura – Laura – Chicago, IL
-Mural Reception – A viewing of a commissioned mural at the residence of Gail Levin and John Van Sickle –NYC


-Depersonalization (I am a Machine, They are Machines) – Ox-Bow School of Art
-I’m Not Morbid (Robert Zehnder Solo Exhibition) –
Jacket Contemporary Chicago
-Always Eat the Crust: A Private Seminar and Critique – Outhouse Gallery Chicago -1-800 Share – 1-800 Gallery Chicago

-Domestic Disturbance -Above Market Gallery, Chicago


-Young Dads -The Parlor Gallery, Chicago


Ox-Bow Summer Fellowship 2015 SAIC Merit Scholarship
Advanced Painting –SAIC 2014 Nota Bene Award 2011 and 2012


Ox-Bow Summer School of Art


Born in Summit, New Jersey, 1992. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


Artist Assisting
Other Arts-Related and Freelance Work