Roberts Projects is pleased to announce the LIGHT and the DARK, Brenna Youngblood’s inaugural exhibition at the gallery. the LIGHT and the DARK takes as its genesis Youngblood’s experience navigating the difficulties of last year and applying her lived experiences – endured as two separate but simultaneous realities – to her practice. From a deadly pandemic to a global movement for equitable racial justice, 2020 was defined by its world-shifting events.
The works on view hold space for light and dark, and the material representation of both by taking into account their own considerations and possibly different ideas surrounding each, but as a whole the show is committed to Youngblood’s highly personal response to her particular memories and experiences addressing the events and issues we have seen unfold so far. the LIGHT and the DARK brings together sixteen energy-filled mixed-media collages on canvas and board.
In INCARCERATION (2020), Youngblood employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast a collaged sweater’s black and white stripes with the canvas’ otherwise smoothly painted surface. The artist’s phenomenological interrogation of abstract concepts without immediate reference to the human body hints at the larger story of the erasure and animus that has always been there for Black Americans. One of the most damning features of the U.S. criminal justice system, and the country as a whole, is its vast racial inequity. Though, immaterial abstractions seem appealing when the material world is devoid of benevolence.
Youngblood’s embrace of unconventional materials from everyday life handily blurs the distinction between painting and sculpture. New assembled collage works incorporating hundreds of craft buttons allow her to create a topographical surface to then build up and paint on with a variety of techniques: thick impastos, transparent washes, loose and smooth brushstrokes. The result is a playful intermingling of shapes and patterns, texture, and sensibility.
Though often classified as an assemblage artist among the ranks of Noah Purifoy, George Herms, John Outterbridge and Betye Saar, Youngblood’s practice defies one specific categorization. Her ability to strip the art-historical canon of assemblage of any ambiguity further bolsters her dedicated practice of collecting society’s discarded fragments to spin them into highly charged cultural critique.
Born in Riverside, California in 1979, Brenna Youngblood currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach in 2002 and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006 where she studied with artists John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and James Welling. She has exhibited widely and her work has been included in museum exhibitions including Made in L.A., the Los Angeles Biennial organized by the Hammer Museum and LA><Art, and Fore at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2012); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2013 and 2016-2017); the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX (2014); Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; Art + Practice, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2017). Solo institutional exhibitions include Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA (2020), Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2015), Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona, CA (2015), the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (2014), and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2006). In 2016, she was the recipient of the Seattle Art Museum’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize.
Youngblood’s works are held in private and public collections, including but not limited to the Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.
A catalogue will be published by Roberts Projects in conjunction with the exhibition.