Art Basel

OVR: Portals

David Shrobe

June 16 - 19, 2021

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For Art Basel’s OVR: Portals, Thierry Goldberg Gallery is pleased to present a selection of new works by David Shrobe.

Using found materials sourced in part from his neighborhood, David Shrobe layers architectural objects, scraps of furniture, fabric, and discarded frame molding to create his multilayered paintings. What manifests are figures assembled by signaled body parts. Fragments depict each figure to offer an uncanny outline that nonetheless exerts a presence of being.

The works presented in OVR: Portals showcase Shrobe’s expanded practice of incorporating found materials in strange and inventive ways that challenge the viewing experience and provide a glimpse into the artist’s imagined universe. Shrobe employs a process of layering to both embody the figure and frame his subjects, and as a way to communicate the complexities of the human experience. The artist uses the folkloric language of flight drawn from diasporic traditions as a dynamic mode of being with contemplative moments of self-discovery.

Shrobe sees the past year and its civil unrest as a moment of reflection. Wide Blue Wings (2021) evokes the artist’s distrust in prescribed historical narratives. Using the reverse side of an antique reproduction of a Madonna and child painting, the work depicts a futuristic African American angelic being wearing an Astronaut helmet with wings visible. Shrobe drew inspiration for this figure from a character in Toni Morrison’s novel, Song of Solomon, who dons silk blue wings and a flight suit in his attempt to soar off a rooftop.

In Earthbound (2021), a figure in an armored body suit floats in the solitude of a post-apocalyptic world, where a fallen confederate monument lays toppled and covered in moss, a leftover artifact from a distant past. The figure’s gaze both confronts and looks out beyond a world we can readily see, emphasizing the artist’s exploration of the universe and where we fit within it.

Vessel (2021) continues the artist’s use of found materials to explore ideas of lineage and inheritance. Shrobe transforms the remains of a church pulpit into framing for a drawing of a father and child, suggesting a self-portrait of the artist and his daughter. Their faces are intermingled and they share the same body, denoting the ways in which traditions and knowledge are passed down through generations.


David Shrobe (b.1974, New York, NY) lives and works in New York. He holds an MFA and a BFA in Painting from Hunter College. Shrobe’s work is currently on view in The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, and in Lineages: Works from the Collection at NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Shrobe has had recent solo exhibitions at Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY; and Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA. He has participated in group exhibitions at CFHILL Art Space, Stockholm, Sweden; Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY; Mandeville Gallery at Union College, Schenectady, NY; the Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY. Shrobe’s work is held in the Permanent Collections of The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; The Block Museum, Evanston, IL; Union College, Schenectady, NY; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR; and NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL.