Contemporary Art Day Sale
Contemporary Art Day Sale
July 30, 01:01 PM GMT
40,000 - 60,000 GBP
THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING, PART THREE
mixed media collage on paper, in sixteen parts
each: 13.5 by 13.5 cm. 5⅜ by 5⅜ in.
framed: each: 25.4 by 25.4 cm. 10 by 10 in.
Executed in 2016.
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Vielmetter, Los Angeles
Private Collection, United States
Acquired from the above by the present owner
What does it mean to be black? In this series of 16 small works, African-American artist Deborah Roberts seeks to delicately capture the many pieces that make up Black personhood. Employing the collage technique that has become so associated with her practice, she reflects on the challenges and experiences young black children face as they make their way through the world. The world has a preconceived, reconstructed set of identities black children must place themselves within; constructs of the white gaze but also of the black community reflecting inherited history. And also of visual culture, and the lexicon of which perpetuates success in music and sports as places Black people occupy.
In The History of Everything, Part Three, Roberts’ collage is deeply sensitive. The emphasis on pattern and magazine cut-outs create a fusion of woven and printed history that come together to create delicate and moving representations of Black community. In one piece, a magazine cut-out of an eye, complete with eyeliner flick, replaces the wrap of a headdress or bundles of hair. Perhaps, a direct comment on the Western view of Black hairstyles and Black beauty.
Women dance with their arms swaying in jubilance; a boy with a flat cap slouches in his paperly sportswear... Black skin is represented in the blackest of black to softer sand colours. Colourism and the way that Black people are perceived is a possible contextualisation, as well as a celebration of all the beauty in the different shades of brown.
Collage, with employs the use of fragments of the varying source material, serves as a metaphor for Roberts' view that when people see people of colour, they don't see them as a whole person, but a partial person. This idea of fragments in relation to the 'self' is pervasive in psychoanalytic theory, particularly the work of Jacques Lacan. Roberts' collage pieces together the multi-faceted aspects of what it means to be black, and showcases the many colours, vibrance, and patterns in Black people and how they come together to be whole, diverse and beautiful.
The History of Everything shows how expansive the black experience can be; how delicate, urgent, colourful. It calls out for contemplation. Each well placed square, patterned piece. If magazines create the visual lexicon of contemporary history, creating her (our) history out of materials already in the world allows the world to come to come together to express an experience that is so rarely seen in magazines. The work is a call out for visibility. It is a scrapbook of the history of everything; Roberts’ everything, Black everything; our everything.
By Aindrea Emelife