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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000

Gail Roberts


Apr 16 - May 28, 2011

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Gail Roberts


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press release



APRIL 16 – MAY 28, 2011
Artist Reception: Saturday, April 16, 5-8 PM

Luis De Jesus is very pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by GAIL ROBERTS, titled "Entanglement", on view from April 16 through May 28, 2011. This will be the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. An artist’s reception will be held on Saturday, April 16th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

In Gail Roberts’s new paintings, images of birds’ nests are paired with books, titles and passages of text, creating a vehicle for inquiry and commentary into the artist’s reflections on nature, culture, and man’s temporal existence. The paintings are a further investigation of themes that she has explored in different ways throughout her 35-year career as a painter. Books and, in particular, classic literature, came into focus several years ago when she created a series of paintings that referenced the accumulation of objects in her personal life—memorials to the amassing of material items that illuminate and reassess what is valued and what is discarded. Roberts’s paintings of nests and books become stand-ins for the genres of landscape and still life, and, by extension—landscape as text, building upon the tradition of Emerson, 19th-century American Luminist painting, and the language-based art of the 1960s and 70s Conceptual movement.

In addition to collecting classic literature, Roberts has acquired a large variety of birds’ nests over a period of twenty years. The nests are accumulations of twigs, grasses, mud and miscellaneous materials (including dryer lint, shredded paper, carpet fiber, thread, human hair, and animal fur) and are interwoven to form cradles—architectural feats of strength and endurance. Enlarged in scale in these new paintings, the nests simulate land masses, planets in formation, swirling gases, and whirlpools of funneling debris. Roberts’s process is a literal structuring and forming of the nest through multiple layers of brushstrokes, creating a physical presence that hovers between abstraction and reality, order verging on chaos. In their larger-than-life grandeur, these containers of detritus reveal heightened contradictions of attraction and repulsion, simultaneously evoking references to birth and innocence, death and decay.

Roberts’s new paintings acknowledge the profound impact of literature upon her views; the fictional worlds created in these novels are secondary tangible realities. A number of the books depicted in this body of work are narrated from the perspective of an adolescent but written from the vantage point of an adult. Iconic characters such as Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird", The Kid in "Blood Meridian", Alice in "Through the Looking Glass", and Holden Caulfield in "Catcher in the Rye" reflect on notions of naiveté versus wisdom, fantasy versus reality, and suppression versus freedom. In the essay to the exhibition catalog, Dr. JoAnne Berelowitz calls it "a liminal point between the innocence of childhood and the knowingness of adulthood". She adds: Ironically, where the empty abandoned nest announces the departure of the pastoral, in these books the pastoral returns, or, at least, breathes its trace through the sometime-idylls of vanished childhoods. It is of course a complex pastoral, for the worn and frayed jackets of the books speak not only of Roberts’s and her generation’s lost childhoods, but to the evanescence that book-culture, like nature, is now subject to.

Gail Roberts received her BFA and MA at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and attended Yale University Summer School of Music and Art. She has exhibited her work at the Riverside Art Museum; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, Wisconsin; the Musee Rochefort-en-terre, Brittany, France; Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica; and the California Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido, CA. Roberts’s work is included in permanent collections of the Oakland Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, San Diego Museum of Art, Lux Art Institute, as well as numerous corporate and private collections. Her work has been critically reviewed in publications such as Art in America, New Art Examiner, and Modern Painters, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards including a California Arts Council Fellowship; Ballinglen Foundation Artist Fellowship, Ballycastle, Ireland; Alfred and Trafford Klotts Fellowship Residency in France; Julia and David White Fellowship Residency in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica; and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, among others.

On view concurrently in Gallery Two: Robert Kushner: 30 Literary Nudes. This is the first exhibition of this body of work in the U.S., in this series Kushner has returned to his early interests of working with the figure. These new drawings of figures, elaborated on collages of antique book pages and sheet music, continue his exploration of drawing images in ink and oil paint over found historical papers.