Blk & Blue explores the topic of mental illness in communities of color. Roberts’ work often spotlights contemporary social issues: by breaking down formal elements in his paintings, the artist creates compositions, which convey the complexities and tensions typically masked by his subjects’ physical appearance.
Inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period, for this exhibition, Roberts represents the everyday misfortunes of the oppressed in a palette primarily composed of blues and grays. Like Picasso’s somber depictions of middle class Spaniards upended by the Industrial Revolution, in Blk & Blue, Roberts ennobles his subjects while shining light on the societal conditions responsible for their hardship. In so doing, the artist presents a new, American iconography for a country ever-defined by color.
For Blk & Blue the artist will present equal numbers of portrait and landscape paintings, relating environment to four major mental health issues plaguing black and brown communities: PTSD, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. In furtherance of this concept, the artist will create an augmented reality component for each work in the show. By holding the gallery’s iPad up to one of Roberts’ paintings visitors will be able to observe the unseen. By scanning landscapes, visitors will see the artist’s interpretation of the untold histories, undrawn borders, and invisible shackles, which perpetuate institutional racism across America today. By hovering over Roberts’ portraits, his subject’s inner world begins to appear, revealing the detrimental effects such adverse environments can have on mental health.