Neumann Wolfson Art is excited to present a solo exhibition of American born artist Charlie Roberts, who currently resides in Oslo, Norway.
In Barbarian Days, Roberts presents paintings of languid moments of bourgeois repose. He renders peaceful figures and intimate backgrounds in sinuous lines and airy colors. Soft, undulating forms and ambiguous renderings of space evoke a sense of movement, change and instability. At the same time, these scenes are surrealistically calm.
In the midst of these serene, swirling worlds, Roberts invites viewers to consider moments of absurdity, when interiority and exteriority bleed into each other and lose binary delineation. Bodies are the instruments through which we navigate the world and perceive reality. The figures’ sprawling, twisting limbs and anatomically impossible joints
and torsos throw the idea of a universally fixed reality into flux. Viewers question where one body ends and another begins. The bodies’ fluctuations also shift figures’ relationships to each other and the spaces they occupy. This confusion of inside and outside is heightened by the use of wavy windows and arch ways, which extend backwards
towards the cityscape only to fold upwards and back into the domestic space. "Nail Session," Roberts’ monumental painting, depicts a multi-generational group of women at home in leisure and communion. The interior oscillates back and forth from faithful, naturalistic to stretched, skewed and tilted representations of space. The women’s bodies ripple and snake around the room. It is a scene of domestic and economic tranquility, yet also conjures the feeling that the ground of that world is bending, flexing and unstable.
The night is dark outside the wavy window, while the warmth of the wood, limestone and moroccan rug cocoon the women. This exhibit gets its title from the book Barbarian Days on the glass coffee table.
As Charlie melts and churns bodies and spaces, he subverts social, economic and political preconceptions. This subversion continues in his synthesis of diverse cultural references, from hip hop and rock music to folk art and art history. The painting Mansion on a Hillis evocative of Marc Chagall. It is Roberts’ response to Bruce Springsteen’s song Mansion on the Hilland Chief Keef’s album Mansion Music. The work is simultaneously weird, warm and suffused with longing. The works presented in Barbarian Days embrace radical ways of perceiving material reality via soothing and powerful stylistic innovation.
Roberts' sculptures destabilize the preconception of a singular point of view. Baudelaire writes, “[Sculpture] has...a certain vagueness and ambiguity, because it exhibits too many surfaces at once...the spectator who moves around the figure can choose a hundred different points of view, except for the right one, and it often happens that a chance
trick of the light, an effect of the lamp, may discover a beauty which is not at all the one the artist had in mind.” Viewers approach the work from multiple vantage points, which are mutable, constantly shifting and subject to the effects of their environment.
Roberts’ work is included in the Boijmans Collection in Rotterdam, NL and the AkzoNobel Collection in Amsterdam, NL. He has shown extensively throughout Europe and the United States in solo and group exhibitions.