Luis De Jesus Los Angeles - Logo image

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


June 10, 2018

REVIEW: Deborah Roberts: Fragile but Fixable / Luis De Jesus Gallery, through June 16, 2018

By Shana Nys Dambrot

Mixed media collages by Deborah Roberts give physical expression to an essential psychosocial phase of human development — adolescence. Her works deftly interpret the time in everyone’s life when we really start to consciously figure out who we are becoming. Roberts takes a special focus on young women and in particular what is unique in such moments to the African-American experience. Yet at the same time, these pictures poignantly unpack the structure of what is also a fundamental human experience.   more

Strong in broad strokes and rich in details, both lovely and unsettling, the works have a self-possession and presence that requires attention be paid.

Roberts constructs hybrid portraits, both fractured and holistic, harvesting meaning from her materials through a mix of found and made imagery. By using an assertively aggregating idiom like mixed media photo-based collage, she both shows and tells how the stories of her characters are the very narratives of acquiring the layers and textures of their personalities, in physical, spiritual, intellectual, sartorial, and literary traits. Her work employs a system for organizing elements of composition which mirrors the way the human brain learns and grows, by a sponge-like process of absorption, mimicry, experimentation, and eventually, decision-making. From many parts, one person.

Each young woman is shown to be a mix of aspects culled from several figures, often with extra limbs and adult-sized hands, as if suggesting the scale of what they still have to grow into in their lives, the promise and potential, the pathways of those who’ve gone before. It’s like a high-minded literary analogy to playing dress-up, tracing the acquisition of heroes. The empathy of works like these is universal, as the cusp-of-womanhood age-range is emblematic of adolescence as a time of transformation. But with Roberts’ compositions, the vernacular of the details in the iconography, as well as the race of the actual young women, speaks to a specific set of experiences to consider on its own terms.

The use of abstract patterns as textiles both deviates from and conforms to visual expectations, operating like Op Art but functioning pictorially as an essential part of the portraits, the garments. In fact, every element in Roberts’ pictures does at least two things. For example, the found photographs, painting, text, and drawing, including images of girls, radical and historical figures, and contemporary female role models like Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem. These source images are both visual elements, often manipulated or obscured or transformed, and also they inhere in themselves content references that frame and move the story of what the work is doing.

The several pieces included that are lists of names rather than figurative portraits evoke 20th-century classics of word-art, but they are not just any names. Within the idea that list-making performs a visual function in the realm of painting and drawing, the thing with these particular names, is that those aren’t the names the nice white lady reads at the end of Romper Room. Susan, Jenny, Amanda…not so much Skarkesha, Shonique, or Latifah. That is but one way in which Roberts’ choices of source materials and augmented imagery interrogate the prevalence of whiteness, in face and name, as an accepted “universal” standard of beauty which leaves everyone else out. Ultimately Roberts’ visually stunning work succeeds by examining what is both unique about her girls, and also what their experiences can teach us all.
Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and by Appointment

May 30, 2018

L.A. Times Review: Deborah Roberts' powerful statement of black female identity

Deborah Roberts’ black girls are beautiful in their incongruity. The artist from Austin, Texas, has her first exhibition in L.A. at the Luis De Jesus gallery, and the collages and text works explore preteen awkwardness and the syncretic nature of black female identity. The images celebrate what it means to contain multitudes.

Their most obvious precedent is the collage work of Romare Bearden, who documented African American life in the 1960s in dynamic compositions that channeled the energy of music.   more

Roberts’ portraits also feel musical, incorporating bold prints, bright colors and dramatic shifts in scale and perspective, but her eclecticism is much quieter. Her girls appear isolated on white grounds, the center of attention.

Most of them gaze out at the viewer, although their visages are amalgams of several faces. In “Political Lamb #3,” the girl gazes in two directions: one eye trained on us, the other in profile. Two of her four arms hold a numbered card up to her chest, as in a mug shot. The gravity of this detail belies the perky bows in her braided hair.

The arms and hands of older women appear throughout. In “Here before, here after,” a sweet girl wearing a tiara has hands that are startlingly wrinkled and gnarled, suggesting wisdom beyond her years. The outstretched, outsized hand in “The step back” is also clearly a grown-up’s. The subject’s other hand is clad in a bright red boxing glove. These girls, incorporating the experience of their elders, are not to be messed with.

Eclecticism also appears in text works that are simply lists of names. Monikers like “Sharkesha,” “Raeschell” and “Shonique” fuse and twist various linguistic traditions in the same way as the collages. They are creative refusals to be contained by any one culture or category.

Roberts’ works capture perfectly what it feels like to have assumptions and expectations foisted upon you, to feel like a collection of pieces instead of a person. If you are lucky, you will also be buoyed and strengthened by the traces of those who came before, in the creation of someone unprecedented.

Luis De Jesus, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Through June 16; closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 838-6000, [ READ MORE ]

May 26, 2018


BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The works of Georgia O'Keeffe, the mother of American modernism, will be on display in a new exhibit that opens today at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The exhibit, "The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art," brings together sculptures, murals, photographs and paintings by the American artist, whose life spanned from 1887 to 1986.   more

A total of 36 of her works, including sketchbooks that will be on public view for the first time, will be arranged in galleries by themes most often found in her pieces: "Flowers," "Finding the Figure," "The Intangible Thing," "Still Lifes," "Cities and Deserts" and "The Beyond." [ READ MORE ]

May 25, 2018

Molly Larkey featured: "Georgia O'Keeffe omnipresent in 'The Beyond' exhibition at Crystal Bridges"

BENTONVILLE -- Georgia O'Keeffe's iconic painting, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, is one of the first pieces visitors will see when they enter the exhibition gallery at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art over the next several months.

"It's a real cornerstone of the history of American art," Alligood said Thursday.

The piece also is a cornerstone of "The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art," a temporary exhibition that opens at the Bentonville museum this weekend.   more

The Crystal Bridges-organized show takes a broad look at O'Keeffe's career, which produced works like Jimson Weed, Lake George, Coat and Red (1919), Radiator Building -- Night, New York (1927), Flying Backbone (1944) and The Beyond (1972). [ READ MORE ]

May 25, 2018

MOLLY LARKEY FEATURED: "'The Beyond,' works by O'Keeffe and others, to open at Crystal Bridges"

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville goes above and into "The Beyond" with an exhibition of 36 works by Georgia O'Keeffe spanning her career and works by contemporary artists whose sensibilities hearken to O'Keeffe's. The show opens Saturday, May 26.

The O'Keeffes come from CBMAA's permanent collection — including works it shares with Fisk University in Tennessee — and public and private collections. The title of the show is taken from an abstract painting on loan from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.   more

The museum once contested Crystal Bridges' arrangement with Fisk to co-own the collection from the estate of Alfred Stieglitz that O'Keeffe donated to Fisk; apparently, the two institutions have buried the hatchet.  [ READ MORE ]

May 23, 2018



“Fragile but Fixable,” Deborah Roberts’s Los Angeles solo debut, is on view at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles through June 16. In her collages, Roberts takes found images of black women and girls and alters them with pigment and paint, manipulating the optics of advertisement to create new fictions of beauty. “My art practice,” she writes, in her artist statement, “takes on social commentary, critiquing perceptions of ideal beauty.   more

Stereotypes and myths are challenged in my work; I create a dialogue between the ideas of inclusion, dignity, consumption, and subjectivity by addressing beauty in the form of the ideal woman.” [ READ MORE ]

May 12, 2018


Deborah Roberts, “Fragile but Fixable,” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles Projects. Based in Texas, the artist is known for creating collages out of found photographs, paintings and drawings. These often depict black girls entering adolescence, evoking moments of drama, strength and joy. It is Roberts’ first solo show in Los Angeles. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through June 16. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, [ READ MORE ]

May 01, 2018



...And talking about lynching – this time, an even less explored chapter of America’s history. I am reminded of Los Angeles photographer Ken Gonzales-Day, who showed powerful and heartbreaking photos at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles in 2015, where he recreated scenes of the lynching of a Latino in California as part of his series, Erased Lynching. Gonzales-Day hopes this series will bring greater visibility to the presence of Latinos in the history of lynching in the US... [ READ MORE ]

April 30, 2018

Deborah Roberts FEATURED ON ARTSY: "Getting Their Due"

In the past few years, the art world has begun to more graciously reward artists who have honed their practice over previous decades, while remaining inexplicably under-the-radar. Artists like these 10 members of The Artsy Vanguard—a new, annual list of the 50 most influential talents shaping The future of contemporary art practice—are finally getting their due, with museum retrospectives, representation by major international galleries, and surging collector interest. [ READ MORE ]

April 25, 2018

Deborah Roberts Examines Black Girlhood at the Spelman Museum

The racial category and social position constructed as whiteness operates through a set of unmarked and unnamed cultural practices that are designed and enforced to privilege its members. The art museum, with its rooms full of objects negotiating and guiding our tastes, values, and assumptions in space and time, is one of the most visible structures of whiteness.   more

It is a place where the “unconsciousness” of Western (art) history and its roots in capitalism, racism, imperial colonialism, and heteropatriarchy can perpetuate and manifest unchecked, based on institutional presumptions of a white audience and white critical network amplifying and naturalizing a whitewashed cultural history.  [ READ MORE ]