Bluecoat Liverpool: Deborah Roberts

A visit to The Bluecoat - Liverpool's contemporary arts centre is a regular habit for whenever I visit the city. I know there will pretty much always be something that piques my interest. If not, seeing the building itself is a treat. 

This November 2021 visit wasn't to see anything specific - I'll admit to the fact that I hadn't even checked to see what exhibitions might be on. I was greeted by another top exhibition:

Deborah Roberts: A look inside

The exhibition continues until Sunday 23 January 2022

"This is the first major European solo exhibition from award-winning US-based artist Deborah RobertsCombining collage with mixed media, her figurative works critique notions of beauty, the body, race and identity in contemporary society through the lens of Black children in the USA."

Stylistically these large pieces use lots of white space. It imbues the works with a graphic cleanness. I think that's what attracts me to them initially.

The works also have great impact - not just because of their scale, but also because of the juxtaposition of collaged parts and the artist's joyous use of colour and pattern. The disjointedness of the figures is a well handled metaphor for the idea of social construct which the artist pursues.

'Her works on paper and on canvas combine found images, sourced from the internet, with hand-painted details in striking compositions that invite viewers to look closely, to see through the layers. 

Roberts' use of collage reflects the challenges encountered by young Black children as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they navigate preconceived social constructs, the white gaze and visual culture at large. The artist investigates how societal pressures, projected images of beauty or masculinity, and the violence of American racism conditions their formative experiences, as well as how others perceive them. Simultaneously heroic and insecure, playful and serious, powerful and vulnerable, the figures Roberts depicts combine a range of facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and clothes.' source


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