Darrell Roberts



American artist Darrell Roberts is best known for his abstractions full of color and texture. In his decades-spanning practice, he has explored different materials and mediums. Darrell began exploring painting in high school and was creative throughout his childhood, today he creates gracefully formed abstracts that are boldly colored and hang in an uncanny, perfect balance.  Each painting consists of swatches of oil paint perfectly chosen by color layered upon layer, and with tiny painted out imperfections beneath allowed to flicker through.
Darrell Roberts moved to Chicago in 1997 after attending the University of Northern Iowa, where he received a BA in Art History. He spent the summer of 1996 on the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon, Israel on an archaeology dig. There he realized his interest in ancient civilizations and desire to pursue painting. Darrell continued his education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received a BFA and MFA in studio art. Mr. Roberts had a solo show titled "Luscious" at the Hyde Park Art Center January 21st to March 27, 2007. A Robert Rauschenberg Grant was awarded to Darrell Roberts March 2007. He has been in numerous shows in the last decade and was awarded a full fellowship on behalf of the Dedalus Foundation to the Vermont Studio Center for December 2007. A grant from the George Sugarman Foundation was awarded to him for the enrichment of his artistic career November 2007. A generous grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation was awarded in December 2007. Darrell received an Illinois Arts Council Grant in January 2009 and a grant on behalf of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, March 2009. Mr. Roberts' review is in ARTnews magazine, May 2009 from his solo exhibition "Surface Matters" at McCormick Gallery. Darrell exhibited with Joan Grona Gallery in San Antonio, Texas and was in a 2-person show in 2012. Darrell was invited to the NIV Art Center, International residency Sept-Oct. 2012, New Delhi, India. An exhibition LOCUS SOLUS: RASA * 12 was held at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India. In 2013 Darrell returned to India and participated in Crack International Artist Residency in Kushtia, Bangladesh. In 2014 Mr. Roberts received an unrestricted financial award from The Tanne Foundation. In 2015 Mr. Roberts participated in two international residencies; at the Shangyuan Art Museum in Beijing, China and at Linea De Costa in Cadiz, Spain. Darrell Roberts is represented by Thomas McCormick Gallery of Chicago and David Richard Gallery in Santa Fe.


For me everything is about art all the time. In the 1950’s, art critic Harold Rosenberg coined the term action painting. It’s a phrase that I keep coming back to. My practice is as much about the act as the action. The finished painting is a physical manifestation, or residue, of the action. Rosenberg's definition of art as an act rather than an object, as a process rather than a product defines my studio practice well. Applying paint, scraping it away, layering, and accumulation. Although my paintings are seemingly abstract they are rooted in my everyday experience.
The ever-changing landscape and structures of the metropolis inspire my work. Over the years I have documented Chicago; the lake, the gardens, the skyline, its people and construction sites. All these elements and textures influence my work. My interest is in sensory overload and stimulation. I grew up in a small rural farm in Iowa. I remember going for long walks through the fields and woods, contemplating what is out there. Today I live and make art in Chicago. I still go for long walks, through an ever-changing environment, which influences my art making. I contemplate the same questions I did in my childhood, and wonder why and how a lot. I believe some of us, artists, are born with a creative energy and soul to make art. I am bombarded with visual stimuli in Chicago, and love it; I believe more is much better. The pace of people, traffic and hectic life make it easier for me to notice the subtle changes of textures, colors, forms and light as I move through the city. These changes quickly catch my eye and give me a moment to rest. Many times I spend much of the course of a year, documenting construction sites and am interested in what was and will be.

My painting process is not dissimilar to the continual push and pull on the growing metropolis; as crews raze a structure so others are building new projects. In the way a mark is applied, a color is laid down and then scraped up and moved away, only to let another layer build-up the painting.

Color for me is movement; movement through the city is color. A big influence on my practice is Hans Hoffmann whose push-pull theory owed much to his surroundings. The tension of space, form, line and color all ring true in my process of painting.

The elements of nature give many structures in Chicago a nice patina. Flakes of paint chip off buildings, leaving behind a history of paint strata on the structure. Rust becomes more dominant on boxcars as they haul commodities from Chicago to the west and back. The city gardens are full of intense colors and textures in the summer. My paintings have much to do with these observations and a keen sense of sight.

In my workspace, I cover the walls with the images I document, colored papers I have collected with different patterns and textures to bright toys filling my studio. There is so much influence in my space the eye can hardly rest; it is intense energy and colorful happiness. I work on a series at a time, as many as fifteen paintings. Sometimes laying down the background, other times scraping away and covering it up. Each time adding more texture through the thick layers of paint. Over the course of months, my abstract paintings are razed and built-up. My canvases are opaque and full of color, texture and visual stimulation. Steeped in the tradition of oil painting, my paintings are best seen in multiples to get a sense of the sensory overload and rapid eye movement on a subject with the subtle changes. My paintings stimulate the viewer's senses, which can give off a sensory overload. My life is art and molded around life.



2003 MFA: The School of The Art Institute of Chicago

2000 BFA: The School of The Art Institute of Chicago

1997 BA: Art History, The University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa
1996 summer, Leon Levy Expedition, Ashkelon, Israel


Selected Resume


Solo Exhibition, David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe.
Tran'sper?nses, Solo exhibition, Ignition Projects, Chicago.  
Wild garlic - contemporary Chicago, Ignition Projects, Chicago.
Participating artist in Anne Harris’s The Mind’s I is an ongoing drawing project at the Ed
Paschke Art Center, Chicago.
Waxman, Lori, “Last chance to see 3 noteworthy Chicago art shows” review of “Not Just Another
Pretty Face” @ The Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
Art Miami 2016, showing with Thomas McCormick Gallery, Miami, Florida.
Gupta, Vasanthi, The Book Review Volume XL Number 7 July 2016 Focus-Gender Studies, ABOUTTURN: Is The Female Point Of View Essentially Feminist?
EXPO CHICAGO 2016, showing with Thomas McCormick Gallery, Navy Pier, Chicago.
6th Installment of Not Just Another Pretty Face, Commissioned by Eileen Truong, Hyde Park Art
Center, Chicago. (Color catalog)
The Art of Expression: The Art Center Highland Park, Artists in this exhibition are represented
by Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago,  Highland Park, Illinois.  
Abstract Expressions: March 18 - June 11, 2016 @ Evolutionary Healthcare 461 E 200, Salt Lake
City, UT  The exhibition is curated by Patrajdas Contemporary of Ogden.
“About Turn, is the female point of view essentially feminist?” Alliance Francaise, Delhi, India.
“Chicago Paints” at Ohio University Art Gallery, Athens, Ohio.(Color Catalog)
Interview by Chester Alamo-Costello, “Darrell Roberts-The Intuitive Traveler”
The Comp Magazine, http://www.thecompmagazine.com/darrell-roberts/ December 30, 2015.
Architectural Elements Installation, Linea De Costa, Cadiz, Spain.
Linea De Costa artist residency, Cadiz, Spain.
Sights, Sounds and Sensations of the City exhibit at the State Street Gallery,
Robert Morris University
Residency Program Annual Exhibition, Shangyuan Art Museum.
Shangyuan Art Museum artist residency, Beijing, China.
EXPO CHICAGO 2015, showing with Thomas McCormick Gallery, Navy Pier, Chicago.
Art Aspen with Patrajdas Contemporary Booth #A9, Aspen Ice Garden, Aspen, CO.
Blogversary: Inside the Artist’s Kitchen at The Franklin, Chicago.
Verge Art NYC with Diane Ponder Projects, 171 Canal Street, Chinatown, Manhattan, NY.
Hawkins, Margaret, “Windy City Wonders”, Art & Antiques magazine, p.40-45, May, 2015
Darrell Roberts “Exquisite Objects” Solo Exhibition, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago.
Darrell Roberts Solo Exhibition Abstractions, Portraits and Landscapes, Farnham Gallery,
Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.
“L. Kent Wolgamott: Chicago artists look at abstraction in Elder Gallery show”
JournalStar.com/Ground Zero Magazine. Lincoln, NE, November 1, 2014.
“Abstraction and the Open Road”, Driven to Abstraction at Whitespace Contemporary by Geoff
Wichert, Utah’s Art Magazine, Published by Artists of Utah, Page 8, November 2014.
Rocket Run; Abstraction from Chicago, Elder Gallery, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln,
NE. Curated by Alexander Herzog.
"Driven to Abstraction", at Whitespace Contemporary, an exhibition of painting and sculpture
curated by Patrajdas Contemporary, Ogden, Nevada.
EXPO CHICAGO 2014, showing with Thomas McCormick Gallery, Navy Pier, Chicago.
Tanne Foundation Award, unrestricted financial gift from the Tanne Foundation.
INDIANA GREEN 5th Year Anniversary 2014 at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. (Color catalog
with show.) Cedarburg, WI.
International Artist Residency Exhibition, Crack International Artist Program,  Kushtia,
5th Installment of Not Just Another Pretty Face, Commissioned by Erin Houlehen, Hyde Park Art
Center, Chicago. (Color catalog)
"Identity Discourse"  Curated by Donna Radcliffe, Lois Stone, and Michelle Bey Williams, Hyde
Park Art Center, Chicago.
“Being Paint” Duk Ju L. Kim, John Salhus, Darrell Roberts Zhou B. Art Center, Chicago.
Niv Art Center Artists in Residency art exhibition, LOCUS SOLUS: RASA * 12 Curated
by Elizabeth Rogers, Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Fine Art) New Delhi,
India. (Color Catalog)
Fresh Abstraction-Selections from the McCormick Gallery, The Art Center Highland
Park, Highland Park, Il.
Interaction, Curated by Sun. H. Choi, Korean Cultural Center of Chicago, Wheeling, IL.
Marks of Process, UNI Gallery of Art, Cedar Falls, IA. (color brochure with show).
Art Chicago 2011 with Thomas McCormick Gallery at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago.
Textural Real, solo exhibition of paintings and works on paper, Korean Cultural Center of
Chicago, Wheeling, IL
Visiting artist, University of Northern Iowa, February, 2011.
Art Talk/Lecture, " Historically Influenced Through Painting." Auditorium, University of Northern
Iowa, February, 2011.
Evanston Biennial, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL.
Art Chicago 2010 with Thomas McCormick Gallery at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago.
Commissioned by Anna Marks for Not Just Another Pretty Face, Hyde Park Art Center,
November, 2010.
"Darrell Roberts Recent Paintings" Indian Hills Community College Art Gallery, Ottumwa, Iowa
Buhrman, Matt, Overview of Darrell Roberts Art Exhibit, KTVO3 ABC news,  February 22, 2010,
Ottumwa, IA
Overview of Roberts exhibits at IHCC Gallery, Ottumwa Courier, February 19, 2010.
McCormick Contemporary 2009, Dirty Dozen, new work by gallery artist, Chicago
Art Chicago 2009 with Thomas McCormick Gallery at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago.
CAAP Grant on behalf of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, March, 2009.
Lopez, Ruth, Art Review from "Surface Matters" solo exhibition at Thomas McCormick Gallery,
Chicago, ART news Magazine, May, 2009, p120.
Thenhaus, Paulette, Art Review from Galesburg Civic Center exhibition , Galesburg Zephyr,
April 23, 2009, p.13..
Darrell Roberts "Surface Matters" 2009 Solo Exhibition, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago.
Visiting Artist, University of  Northern Iowa, March, 2009.
Art Talk/Lecture, Auditorium, University of Northern Iowa, March, 2009.
Art Critic Alan G. Artner's, Chicago Tribune, not-to-be missed art shows, Darrell Roberts at
McCormick Gallery February 2009.
Illinois Arts Council Grant, January 2009.
Summer Abstraction: 2008, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago
Art Chicago 2008 with Thomas McCormick Gallery at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago.
Commissioned by Judith Stein and Ginger Farley for Bob Shapiro in Not Just Another Pretty
Face, Hyde Park Art Center, Nov. 2008.
Fresh Paint; a group exhibition of Chicago painters, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago
Art Chicago 2007 with Thomas McCormick Gallery at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago.
Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant, December 2007.
Artist Talk/Slide lecture, Vermont Studio Center, December 11th.
George Sugarman Foundation Grant, November 2007.
Full Fellowship Award, on behalf of the Dedalus Foundation Vermont Studio Center, 4 weeks-
December 2007
Robert Rauschenberg  Grant,  March 23.
Hyde Park Art Center, "Luscious", solo exhibition, Chicago.
I feel, good, i feel great, i feel wonderful, current works by Ana Fernandez and Darrell Roberts,
L2 Kontemporay Gallery, LA
Waterloo Center for the Arts, solo exhibition, Waterloo, Iowa

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