Chicago artist Steph Roberts chooses to paint images of divers in mid-dive, exploring the relationships between the dichotomies of free will and destiny. By freezing the action of human figures caught tumbling in space, she addresses modern manís existential concerns for meaning and control. In much the same way as a diver works with and against gravity in order to achieve an artful sense of grace and precision, Robertsí figures become metaphors for the concentrated assertion of human will and suspended moments of beauty and grace.
These recent diver paintings continue to explore the themes of ideas of grace, order, beauty, and destiny. The figures themselves in their precise and controlled movements struggle against the pervasive natural forces. Despite the engagement of muscle and speed, the figure is always falling through space, which speaks to the assertion of human will in the context of circumstances beyond oneís control. Roberts suspends the motion of the figure in an ambiguous space which more readily allows a metaphoric reading.
Roberts uses traditional oil painting techniques most commonly associated with the old masters. Rembrandt and Caravaggio are counted among her influences, and the dramatic contrasts in her work emphasize the importance of space and light in the paintings.
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