Recent Work


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Biographical Information

     Rob Elphinstone grew up in Calgary, Canada, and spent his youth travelling about the world. He went to Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation of the country acting as a photographer with "Doctors without Borders" (MSF). For months he wandered through the Hindu Kush mountains with the mujahedin experiencing first hand what it feels like to be under attack in a war.
(click here for Photographs of this trip).
      He worked in space physics for many years, researching the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) both from the ground and from satellites in space. He has authored more than 50 publications (Click here for references) on the northern lights including review articles and has lectured extensively throughout the world. The beauty of the northern lights allowed some artistic interpretation to overlap into his scientific work.
      Rob lives with his wife and two children in Nanaimo on Canada's west coast where they cherish the beautiful climate and scenery that inspire his paintings. He divides his time between being a stay-at-home dad and an artist.  

Actualism Art

  He specializes in capturing the beauty of the Canadian west coast through his textured wild flowing landscapes. His art reflects the belief that our senses reveal only a shadow of what we truly experience. Rob believes that the beauty of a place is hardly ever replicated in a photo or a video. Our senses take in a fraction of what we perceive about the world. This tiny fraction is the shadow of what is really there. Good art should not have to be about what the inner psyche experiences or displaying perfectly what is optically there but should be about the unseen reality that everyone feels. Every one of his art pieces reflects the premise that creative art stems from what is truly evident  in nature rather than the shadow that can be photographed. The term "Actualism art" is used to distinguish this art form from the emotionally based "expressionism" trend. Reality is more than just the sum our emotional impressions and the sense impressions of an external scene. The realism art discipline attempts to capture the latter and expressionism the former. Some Actualism art works from the belief that the only true art is the object itself. Rob Elphinstone's version of Actualist art allows that the observer can interpret the "actual" and create works that capture the essence of the observed in a fundamental way. True art captures the essence of reality rather than focusing on composition, technical prowess, or reproducing a precise scene. 
      The process of laying down textured brushstrokes helps capture the elusive nature so evident when we look outside. The textured brushstrokes give the paintings a unique look. This texture is laid down as a pastel underpainting which unifies my work and allows vibrant colour to be applied on top. This technique yields a complexity that mimics nature and that permeates every portion of the pieces he creates.  From a distance, the painting comes together through form as a coherent whole, but each portion catches the eye in a manner that draws the viewer into it. 
October, 2005

“… I see the Vincent influence, but your art evokes the
 brushwork of  Soutine (Click here) and I see  a distinct passionate style
 influenced by nature… This man's art is going to find a huge public appreciation 
in the future.” – W. Matthews, a Vancouver collector


The definition given above is closer to  philosophical  actualism rather than the original view of Actualism art which can be found at:
This view associated with revolutionary influences is given below:

Actualism (1968)
Term first employed by French writer ALAIN JOUFFREY to account for the effect of revolutionary situtations on art, for instance during the Paris riots in May 1968.
During such events the division between art and social reality ceases to exist, and its significance or irrelevance is made manifest.
A Jouffrey, 'What's to be Done about Art', Art and Confrontation: France and the Arts in an Age of Change (London, 1970)

Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery hosted a large-scale exhibition called “Associates – Collective and Interactive Works in the Russian Art of the 1960s-2000s” as part of the 1st Moscow Biennale of Modern Art. The exhibition featured a wide variety of genres and techniques of the so-called actualist art: painting, graphics, sculpture, application, objects, installations, photography and much more, which create a parallel world challenging the official Soviet art.

An additional manifesto for actualism art is given by
David Brown at:


Artist’s Statement

























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