Within cells interlinked
Robarts' artistic practice is rooted in the social implications and context of his materials. A mop, a hose, propane tanks - tools that became familiar to the artist during his time as a superintendent - speak to the value ascribed to objects and their relationship to art, the labor market, and social stratification.
This exhibition marks an evolution in Robarts' mop paintings - a series of fluid, calligraphic abstractions of plaster on linoleum tiles. The distinct action of mopping-as-mark-making is now consumed by an osmosis-like process of flowing pigment from an under layer, ebbing and pooling into crystalline forms along the divisions in the gridded surface. The act of art-making thus becomes a systematic exercise in chance, and a shift of control from the artist's hand to the mystical forces governing the universe.
In his sculptural works, Robarts plays with contradictions, working with materials at opposite ends of the spectrum. In one corner of the gallery, a cluster of used and empty gas cylinders are linked to a stainless-steel nucleus. The colors of rose pink and robin's egg blue evoke a softness of palette, directly juxtaposing the industrial nature of the material. This work is in direct dialogue with a new iteration of his sculptural line drawings, comprising a vertically-mounted sheet of glass through which an old hose is piped, pushing and pulling away from the surface in a graceful interplay of gravity, air, and object. The fusion of found objects – a discarded hose and the gas cylinders from scrap yards exaggerate the nature of our urban environment and its constant redevelopment.
In Denis Villeneuve's neo-noir film Blade Runner 2049, the android police officer is administered post-traumatic baseline tests in a series of questions designed to elicit an emotional response. A Rorschach test of the 21st century, the inquisitor commands the officer to repeat the phrase, "Within cells interlinked", prompting an introspection on self-identity and interconnectivity in a rapidly changing world. In essence, Robarts is questioning what intrinsically makes us human, and the vital role art plays in exploring those boundaries.