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You can view the paintings on the artist’s Instagram, @malik.roberts.art, where you’ll see multiple methods on one canvas—drawing and realism, in color and black-and-white. Earlier this year, photographer Steve Benisty visited Roberts in the studio, captured in the photos above.
Below, the artist shares how “Glory | In BLK” rounds out a series of shows, starting in 2017.
WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for “Glory | In BLK”?
MALIK ROBERTS: I started working on the idea for “Glory | In BLK” soon after I closed my second show “Blk & Blue” at ABXY in late 2018. I felt like it would be the perfect way to close out my series of shows—from “Stolen” in 2017, where I addressed things I thought were culturally stolen from us as black people in America, while also playing on being “stolen” from our homeland; to “Blk & Blue,” where the pieces spoke to the mental health situation within black and brown communities.
I wanted “Glory | In Blk” to be the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, showing the things that might have been stolen from us, or the attributes that “they” made us feel we should be ashamed of, is really what makes us glorious.
WW: When we last spoke with you, you were going through a blue period. How has your work evolved since then?
MR: Attention to detail mainly. I’ve been adding more things that speak to the culture, so it resonates a certain way.
WW: This series of portraiture incorporates multiple styles on one canvas—drawing, realism, color, black and white. Can you tell us about this process?
MR: I don’t know, honestly. I just feel it out.
WW: Where do you typically start with a painting?
MR: I typically start with how I want it to feel, try and find an emotion, or give the subject a reason.
WW: In this latest series, who are your subjects?
MR: The subjects range from my homegirls, family, friends, music videos, shit from the neighborhood. My work or the subjects in my work tend to be a compilation of people and things I’ve seen during my time on this planet. So, for instance, a piece can reference a homegirl that I know now, my mom’s friend from when I was a child, and an Aaliyah music video from 2000.
WW: The exhibition “Glory in BLK” had to close to be postponed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which I’m sure was disappointing. How are you doing at this moment?
MR: I’m cool now, I was devastated for like a week when we had to make the decision. I worked on the show for about three months so for it to be postponed two days before it open, shit hurt.
But it was the responsible call to make and Allouche Gallery has done a great job at handling it.
WW: Are you able to be in the studio and find a creative outlet?
MR: No, I’ve been home doing my part to flatten the curve. I do have an easel set up in my apartment with a back-up supply of materials in an emergency suitcase—just for moments like this.
WW: How are you staying connected?
MR: Nowadays with social media, it’s pretty easy to stay connected but it’s like a diet connection. So yeah, I still see everyone I want to see but I want handshakes and hugs, or even the energy of being in the room with someone.
WW: What are you finding challenging?
MR: Cooking every day. I haven’t had to cook this consistently in a long time and I’m running out of dishes to make haha…also dishes.
WW: What are you doing to stay inspired/hopeful?
MR: Catching up on documentaries, learning about new things, and limiting the amount of news coverage I consume so it doesn’t consume me.