Jenkins Jenkins Gallery is pleased to announce a solo presentation of David Shrobe at The Armory Show, March 6-10, Booth F5, Pier 90. Shrobe’s solo booth is part of the Focus Section curated by Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. She has selected artists who explore identity through figuration of both real and imagined forms.
New York-based artist, David Shrobe, will be presenting new mixed media assemblage paintings, oval portraits, and works on paper. This new body of work includes a massive assemblage painting, Baptized by the Sound of Horns, made in part from discarded materials sourced from multiple geographies including California and New York, and especially from around his familial home. By combining remnants of domestic spaces (such as furniture parts, cloth, and flooring) with paint, ink and graphite, Shrobe seamlessly collapses the divisions between painting, drawing, collage and sculpture. His interest in everyday found objects continues a discourse on re-assembling and decoding Black materiality, nodding to the work of Betye Saar and Noah Purifoy.
Shrobe carves forms out of the objects he consciously collects and reconstitutes, shifting their identity and bringing items that previously lived in domestic spaces to life as they undergo a kind of metamorphosis layered with painting and drawing. Through various modes of production Shrobe brings ideas like identity, community, and history into question. His portraits appear hybridized or cyborgian- sending out veiled messages about their psychological make up and their place in a fictive social hierarchy, while confronting the way we perceive human interaction. These likewise become mysterious and powerful commentaries on the visual representation of history and consumer culture, creating a sense of a renegotiated history.
Shrobe’s new works often play with the perspective of the viewer, suggesting both exterior and interior spaces. This Duchampian nod to the surrealist’s masterwork, Étant donnés, and its tantalizing peephole, is perhaps most realized in Baptized by the Sound of Horns. In Baptized, a curtain is drawn allowing a glimpse into an interior world. This scene is rich with themes suggestive of historic religious Adoration Scene paintings and triptychs. The narrative that ensues also alludes to Shrobe’s experiences growing up in New York City and the various rites of passages that marked moments of growth in his life. Although many of the works are steeped in past personal experiences, these are fractured and intermingled with the imaginary, creating worlds where nonlinear moments seem to exist in a potential future.
The collision of timelines, is further seen in in Tenderness. Here Shrobe creates a character dressed in an elegant lavender papal robe, a nod to Charles White’s Black Pope painting and displaying incredible skill with graphite, oil and acrylic. He has topped the figure with a futuristic chrome hat/helmet. The figure becomes immersed in his reflective environment, interwoven with other bodily forms around him. This entanglement leaves the viewer to wonder if these actions are an attempt to silence him, or if it’s an embracement, a gesture of tenderness towards the subject. Likewise, one questions if the figures are from the past, the present, or the future. It takes tenderness, craftiness and cleverness for the figures in Shrobe’s works to navigate constructed worlds.
These larger works are accompanied by a selection of jewel-like works on paper. Now employing a looser and bolder hand, the mixed media works on paper have an iridescent tonality with splashes of minerals. These painterly marbleized surfaces coalesce through the artist’s way of embracing accidental gestures and textures. The subtle portraits create an intimate experience for the viewer.
David Shrobe’s work was recently acquired by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In 2017 he had his first West Coast solo exhibition, Somewhere in Between, at Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, and he was featured in Punch curated by Nina Chanel Abney at Jeffrey Deitch. He was a participant in The Aesthetics of Matter, curated by Deux Femmes Noires: Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont; and was in Harlem Postcards at the Studio Museum in Harlem; Bronx Calling: The Fourth AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum; and Meta-Modes at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling. His works are in the Walton Family Private Collection, the Dean Collection, the Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, and the Estate of Peggy Cooper Cafritz. Shrobe received his MFA in painting from Hunter College, is a graduate of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and a Joan Mitchell Artist Teaching Fellow.