David Shrobe – Mixed Media Assemblage Paintings and Oval Portraits
New York-based artist David Shrobe creates mixed media assemblage paintings and oval portraits that transform the familiar into surreal compositions. He questions notions of identity, history and memory while challenging traditional portraiture conventions.
Shrobe draws inspiration from California artists John Outterbridge, Betye Saar and Noah Purifoy’s tradition of assemblage art, in which he reassembles everyday found objects to explore ideas about identity, community and history. Furthermore, these assemblages serve as a vehicle for him to reflect on his own family, which he finds deeply meaningful.
Early Life and Education
David Shrobe, born in 1974 in New York City, is a visual artist. He graduated from Hunter College with both a BFA and MFA in painting. His artwork has been showcased at numerous solo exhibitions around the country including Thierry Goldberg Gallery in Manhattan; Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in Los Angeles and New York; Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco; and The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of New York City.
Shrobe creates mixed media assemblage paintings, oval portraits and works on paper that transform the familiar into new and transformative configurations. He does this by using found textiles, architectural elements and motifs which he photographs before reinterpreting into his paintings.
David Shrobe creates mixed media assemblage paintings, oval portraits and works on paper that transform the familiar into new and transformative configurations. These windows and portals transport viewers into uncharted territory through an exchange of materiality, symbolism and multiple perspectives.
Shrobe’s work explores themes such as identity, history and memory while challenging traditional portraiture techniques. He uses materials sourced from multiple geographies – particularly around his familial home – to construct these works.
Shrobe’s work blends remnants of furniture parts, cloth and flooring with paint, ink, graphite and minerals to blur the boundaries between painting, drawing, collage and sculpture. He does so to further explore Black materiality by re-assembling symbols that signify cultural traditions, survival strategies, royalty or liberation to create portraits that feel intimate yet transcend time or place.
Achievement and Honors
David Shrobe’s mixed media assemblage paintings and oval portraits transform the familiar into new and transformative configurations. He utilizes materials like found furniture and historical indicators of power and wealth to construct windows and portals that transport viewers and subjects into uncharted territory.
This painterly approach draws upon the history of daguerreotypes, yet also incorporates Black and Brown bodies and lives that were often left out from those portraits. Similar to Titus Kaphar’s work, this new model for representation embraces multiplicity at its core.
David Shrobe is a New York-based artist who creates mixed media assemblage paintings that transform familiar elements into new and transformative configurations. These “windows and portals,” as he refers to them, transport viewers into uncharted territory.
He accomplishes this by fusing together remnants of domestic spaces with paint, ink, graphite and minerals to create artworks that seamlessly merge the boundaries between painting, drawing, collage and sculpture.
He creates multi-layered portraits and assemblage paintings that rework history by using everyday objects from multiple geographies, particularly around his familial home in Harlem. These assemblages are no easy feat; they call into question ideas of identity, community, and history.
Shrobe is an artist whose work has been featured across the country. He holds an MFA from Hunter College and a BFA from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, as well as being a Joan Mitchell Artist Teaching Fellow. His artworks can be found in permanent collections at The Brooklyn Museum (NY); The Block Museum in Evanston, IL; Union College (Schenectady, NY); Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at University of Oregon in Eugene OR; NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale FL; Pierce & Hill Harper Arts Foundation in Detroit MI; plus other art fairs such as Expo Chicago or Untitled Miami Beach are among others.