MALIK ROBERTS (b. 1990, Brooklyn, NY) is a Brooklyn based painter and multimedia artist creating deconstructed portraits of newsworthy contemporary subjects, which explore the relationship between visual culture and reality today. In 2015 his work made waves at a Gucci Mane themed exhibition sponsored by Tumblr, which was extensively covered by local media. In 2016 Roberts’ politically charged mural on display at First Street Green Graffiti Park in downtown Manhattan caught the attention of Scholastic’s National Programs team. The artist was subsequently selected to serve as a juror for Scholastic’s distinguished “Art and Writing Awards.” In November 2017, Roberts had his first solo show at ABXY Gallery in Manhattan. Entitled, “Stolen,” works in the show focussed on the misappropriation of black culture throughout history. Celebrity collectors include: Adrien Brody (actor), Paige Reifler (model), and Ryn Weaver (musician). His work has been featured in Brooklyn Magazine. Spoiled NYC, Whitewall Magazine, Young Jefe, The Burrprint blog, and Pigeons and Planes and many many more.
In the tradition of artists like Magritte and Richard Prince, Roberts often works with images and conventions recognizable from the media, reframing his appropriated source material to reveal the absurdity of every day life. While his visual language combines influences of modern and pop art, the artist’s sophisticated compositions provoke engagement rather than astonishment, inviting the viewer to consider the impact of visual media on the consumption of ideas in the Digital Age.
Roberts’ introduction to art came largely through music and its influence can be seen throughout the development of his practice. In early work, the young artist transformed hi res photographs of black celebrity into impressionistic portraits of aspiration, softening the spotlight on his subjects both physically and conceptually. Borrowing from the visual culture of rap, Roberts then obscured their eyes with censor bars. By censoring his subjects’ vision, the artist transforms the aesthetic and intellectual appeal of the work in an arresting artistic gesture that renders a once easily consumable image, suddenly provocative and intriguing.
In 2010, at a crucial moment in Roberts’ development as an artist, Kanye West released his fifth studio album. The cover art for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy featured the work of George Condo, introducing Roberts to Condo’s hysterically ghoulish characters. Inspired to pursue more sinister subject matter, the artist began breaking down images of notorious cultural icons into their basic geometric forms. He then reconstructs the picture, often allowing the geometric blue print of the figure to remain visible. Much like a musician develops sonic depth, Roberts achieves compositional intensity, rhythm, and harmony by arranging color, texture, and meaning over the structural outline of a given piece. Layering charged source imagery and cartoon extremities over the geometric x-ray of the work, Roberts’ process results in a kaleidoscopic Venn diagram of form and content.
Today, headlines in hyperbole spew from constantly updating newsfeeds while global disasters compete for our dwindling attention spans on the daily. Addressing subjects like police brutality, exclusionary politics, and systemic racism, Roberts’ refined handling of formal content highlights the structural similarities between reality and caricature. By linking our deference to outrageous imagery to our acceptance of outrageous circumstances, the artist transforms paradoxically mundane images into revelatory meditations on the complexities involved in the mechanics of change.
Artist ig: @malik.roberts.art
ON AIR, Group Exhibition, Nike Air Gallery, Brooklyn NYC
Stolen, Solo Exhibition, ABXY Gallery, Lower East Side, NYC
NOW We Here, Group Exhibition, ABXY Gallery, Lower East Side, NYC
Migos Album Release Event, Culture, The Standard Hotel, Chelsea, NYC
The Officers Involved Have not Been Charged, Mural, First Street Green Graffiti Park, Lower East Side, NYC
New Work by Malik Roberts, Atelier ABXY, Soho, NYC
This is Not a Safe Space, Group Show, A+E Studios, Tribeca, NYC
Filling in the Blanks Benefit Auction, GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford, NY
Sounds of Brazil, Live Painting Event featuring Malik Roberts, Soho, NYC
Malik Roberts x GoodWood Pop Up, Kymberle Project, Brooklyn NY
Hypeist Scavenger Hunt, Manhattan, NYC
The Burrprint Pop Up, Afropunk Music Festival, Brooklyn NYC
Haute Living, Love, Fashion, Art with Selected Works by Malik Roberts, Lulu Laboratorium, Wynwood, Miami
Celebrating the artistry and influence of Gucci Mane, Curated by Electric Circus, VILLAIN, Brooklyn NY
Group Show, Gallery Ade Olisa, Long Island New York