Roberts Projects (formerly Roberts & Tilton) presents One Way Or Another, a group exhibition featuring artists whose work the gallery has championed through thematic group exhibitions as well as solo shows. This exhibition takes its title from the pure power pop of Blondie’s 1978 hit. The exhibition is comprised of works by Michael Dopp, Egan Frantz, Jeffrey Gibson, James Hayward, Evan Nesbit, Betye Saar, Ed Templeton, Evan Trine, Kehinde Wiley, and Zhao Zhao. The photographs, sculptures, paintings and films on view share a common approach of innovation. The similarities are less stylistic than intellectual.
Perceptual effect is amplified in Betye Saar’s sculptural works. Although her works include familiar material objects, they impart a sense of mystery. From the ordinary is created the extraordinary. Drawing upon the language of early Mississippian culture ceramic head “pots,” Gibson styles ghoulish domes that give voice to the complexities of American history by accessing a less prominent ceramics tradition. These “pots” are jars shaped like human heads, typically male, and the personages commonly appear to be deceased. Kehinde Wiley’s portraits represent a historical narrative of, and in defiance of, the exploitation of Eurocentric Art, which in turn raises issues - which transcend consideration of form -into varying social, political, and economic spheres.
Autobiography is inherent in these works. Evan Nesbit’s repurposed paintings, manipulated through non-studio processes and materials, are a diary of his emotional states at certain moments in his life. Evan Trine’s photographs are notable for his unique visual language as seen through the photograph’s rigor of repetition and form. Michael Dopp’s works on paper are capricious landscape fantasies unavailable to reality, mixing fragmented human figures with vernacular imagery. Egan Frantz’s painting pushes the invented sense of place further, depicting an atmosphere of lush landscapes and water dappled by natural light.
One of the few general characteristics of the artists in the show is how they relate their work to representational art, particularly movement. In Zhao Zhao’s masterful sequence of paintings, slices of salted duck eggs float across the surface of the canvas like a new kind of calligraphy, the clarity of the ink black background forming many horizons that nearly blend into one. James Hayward’s layered approach to painting underlies how he intervenes and acts upon the present. Each dip and peak highlighting how there is no certainty to be found on the painting’s surface but the paint itself.