EVAN ROBARTS / Galerie Jean Rochdard Bruxelles / 23.04.2015 – 06.06.2015 / Opening april 23rd.

In 2010, Evan Robarts moved into 258 MacDougal Street in New York. Not long afterwards, he was made superintendent of the building when the landlord gave up ownership and responsibility. A year later, the building was purchased by a Kensington-based firm, carrying out minimal repairs only to put the property on the market shortly after.

Evan Robarts commits himself to a social and sociological approach and experiments with the modern principle of urban “gentrification”, which serves as the basis of his interest in work and “living together”, his use of construction materials and modules, but definitely also his attitude towards action and matter. The social project of preserving communities and the cultural melting pot forms an integral part of Robarts’ artistic approach and is meant to outlive the urban phenomenon that aims to definitively transform the neighbourhoods’ economic profile in favour of the higher social classes.

The artist’s actions are adopted and repeated within the social context of both that awareness and a changing environment. They are the starting points for a mimicry of action that he adapts and transposes to his art. His sculptures, installations and paintings are characterised by a functionalist basis of brushing, mopping, erasing, smoothing, washing and painting. Evan Robarts uses materials and objects taken from both the working-class environment and daily life, using certain aspects to celebrate the physical and visual context of blue-collar labor. By using pipes, tubes, murals and scaffolding, this “Arte Povera” of the industry and construction sectors puts the artist’s actions firmly within a tradition and philosophy of continuity between life and art, thereby emphasising the importance of using a certain type of materiality in his art.

His series of “Mop” paintings, for instance, gives form to the act of mopping by repeating the action time and again on a linoleum-covered panel, whereby the plaster applied to the surface reveals an imprint of the work, a trace of the hand as it were. Both his scaffolding and paintings celebrate the work and structure of their invisible authors. By re-appropriating their actions, the artist emphasises the importance of a social mix, but also of human, economic, production and wage mobility. The scaffolding usually represents the temporary epidermis of a building – a superficial layer that covers and hides the front one minute, then disappears to reveal the structure the next. It improves, renovates or demolishes, but mainly represents the principle of a modular building and structure, celebrating the contextual presence, changing force and fleeting, deconstructable and moving character of the art.

The series of “Mop” paintings and the scaffolding are arranged in the gallery and can be viewed during office and opening hours. They are the embodiments of this OVERTIME, reinterpreting the extension of time or work and reappropriating the tasks on the level of a large construction, shapes or colouring set. The construction model and maintenance material used serve to further celebrate their modelling power.

Evan Robarts was born in Florida in 1982. He graduated from Pratt in 2008 and boasts recent exhibitions in Balice Hertling (NY), Bryce Wolkowitz (NY) and the Vigo Gallery (London). In 2015, The Hole was the first gallery to dedicate an entire exhibition to his work. Overtime is the first solo presentation of his work in Europe.

text by Elisa Rigoulet

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