Dune, Matisse and Hip-Hop: Charlie Roberts @ WOAW, Hong Kong
Following the solo exhibition by Cristina BanBan last month, Hong Kong's art and design concept space, WOAW Gallery in Wan Chai, continues their collaboration with Case Studyo in a presentation of Charlie Roberts’ HK debut. Sandworm, on view from June 24 through July 19, will include 9 new watercolors on paper, along with a wooden sculpture and a bronze edition the artist produced with the renowned Belgian studio.
The American-born and Norway-based Roberts works with many genres, including wood sculpting, ceramic production and oil painting, inspired by favorite traditional artists such as Matisse, James Ensor, and Florine Stettheimer, as well as pop culture, hip-hop, comics, and folk art. By experimenting with those influences, Roberts also recalls imagery reminiscent of childhood fantasies sprung from Greek myths, fables, ancient narratives and folklore. For this particular body of work, the artist borrowed elements from Frank Herbert's work Dune, where the sandworm functions as gatekeeper to the highly prized magical drug.
Portraying his characters exceptionally slim, with impossibly elongated limbs, he is able to construct a surreal narrative within a seemingly mundane scenery. This effect is accentuated by the use of different shades of blue and washed-out residual watercolors which create a hazy, perplexing, borderline psychedelic atmosphere. Inside these snapshots of his made-up universe, one can notice the clash of realities as the cast of surreal anthropomorphic characters are juxtaposed against everyday objects from which we source decision-making information, such as newspapers or watches. These elements are creating a metaphor for the contradiction between nature and human civilization potentially suggesting the existence of another consciousness which goes beyond our daily materialistic values and knowledge. —Sasha Bogojev