Deborah Roberts: A look inside
'A look inside' is the first major European solo exhibition from award-winning US-based artist Deborah Roberts. Combining collage with mixed media, her figurative works critique notions of beauty, the body, race and identity in contemporary society through the lens of Black children in the USA.
Born and working in Austin Texas, Roberts' work is held in several collections in US based galleries and in the UK, but this show marks the first time the artist has held a major solo exhibition in a British gallery, featuring both her text works and figurative collages.
Her works on paper and on canvas combine found images, sourced from the internet, with hand-painted details in striking compositions that invite viewers to look closely, to see through the layers. In addition to representational imagery, the artist also makes text works in which she juxtaposes words in ways that expose racism and racial biases entrenched in language and linguistic systems.
Roberts' use of collage reflects the challenges encountered by young Black children as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they navigate preconceived social constructs, the white gaze and visual culture at large. The artist investigates how societal pressures, projected images of beauty or masculinity, and the violence of American racism conditions their formative experiences, as well as how others perceive them. Simultaneously heroic and insecure, playful and serious, powerful and vulnerable, the figures Roberts depicts combine a range of facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and clothes.