moniquemeloche is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by New York born artist David Shrobe. Riding the Wind’s Back, meticulously carved and painted assemblage structures investigate the coexistence of hybrid identities and notions of a collective remembrance reimagined. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and first in Chicago.
Mining archival, biographical, art historical, and literary sources, Shrobe’s new assemblage paintings build on the artist’s interest in folklore and creation mythologies, utilizing the allegorical language of flight drawn from diasporic traditions to conjure liberatory modes of mobility into imagined futures.
Shrobe’s cosmologies situate heroic ancestors, toppled statue heads, and spiritual entities to mediate between earthly and spiritual realms of existence. Fashioned from found and inherited items, Shrobe intuitively links the various materials used both formally and conceptually in service of unfolding intergenerational narratives. Imbued with images of confederate and historic monuments, alongside the disregarded essences from the artist’s Harlem neighborhood, Shrobe reflects on past Black experiences and creates mystic hope for new ones.
The luminous, incandescent color palette is juxtaposed with black and white graphite drawing to further confound the viewer’s sense of time, uniting the worlds of the present, past, and future. Each fragmented figure is depicted in a ghostly outline, exerting an ethereal presence of being which hovers throughout the imagined landscapes they self-govern. Weightless bodies ascend into the deep twilight and the liminal thresholds they occupy; intertwined in moments of embrace and touch, they project their own interior lives in contemplative states of self-discovery. The protector figure is often represented by the recurring female incarnation, evocative of the artists’ relationship to the women in his family, as the bearers of knowledge and heritage. Dangling pull chain and hardware evoke notions of Lady Justice, confronting the viewer with a renewed sense of justice, favoring those who spread their wings and rise.
Riding the Wind’s Back, a title borrowed from a poem and a work included in the exhibition, alludes to the idea of journey and agency; giving the figures the ability to be free floating and fluid in a renewed movement. Shrobe forms the identity of his characters by collaging together conceptions of time to create portals into transitory spaces and new understandings of existence.