Christophe Roberts (b. 1980, Chicago, Illinois) is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist working in sculpture, graphic design, and creative direction. His practice explores complex masculinities, rebel origin myths, and the commodification of identity through meditations on mass culture iconography. Roberts repurposes everyday objects with an intention to reconfigure their meaning and positioning in the familiar public archive.
As a Bahamian artist reared in proximity to a lake that mimics the sea, yearning is the undercurrent of Roberts’ works. Jamaica Kincaid writes of men with “lines drawn through them,” men in search of their fathers, in search of their homelands. Since youth, Roberts created objects to neutralize a sense of absence, of discord with his environment.
Coming of age in the bloom in hip-hop, Roberts’ early practice was influenced by music and salon culture. This formative engagement with countercultures that would be looted for commercial purposes inspires his use of line, color, and fragmentation. Roberts’ designs and figures acknowledge his own fraught relationship to capitalism. “If it wasn’t Nike, it wasn’t nothin’” was the childhood refrain. His use of gear paraphernalia and record industry insignia points to the export of daydream and desire. The larger project of these pieces considers the impermanence of physical artifacts and the fluidity of identity. What do we actually possess? How should we spend the currency of the internal?
Roberts’ work has been widely exhibited, with notable shows at Long View Gallery (Washington DC, 2014), Lyons Wier Gallery (New York, 2011), and Re-Gallery (Chicago, 2010). His work was featured in the following group shows: Outlaw (New York 2011), Next Art (Chicago, 2010), with features through The Hive Gallery (Los Angeles, 2010), DePaul Art Museum, the Chicago Art Department, and following his distinguished tenure at Zhou B Art Center. In 2013, Roberts collaborated with rap royalty, the Wu-Tang Clan, for Wallplay Gallery. That same year, Roberts installed at the Complex Magazine office. His ongoing commissions with Nike include sculptures at the Manhattan flagship store and the Staples Center.
Christophe Roberts remains committed to found and footprint-free pieces, communal healing through public beautification, and participatory art. Following his investigation on the Caribbean slave trade and the conceptual violence of Columbus’ visual presence in the Bahamas via monuments, Roberts has expanded his practice to include large-scale sculptures made from organic materials.