Robert Selby’s art confronts the viewer in his paintings and conceptual pieces with aesthetic reckoning. Using freestanding doors as a painting substrate, Selby prostrates his portals to suggest liminal space: when hung on the gallery wall, it suggests an opening, but betrays its function rendering the art object as aesthetic commentary. By invoking awareness of its surroundings, Selby’s work reconfigures spatial dimensions by conjuring walls and adds a negative visual that reflects upon what was and what is. Although passionate about exploring unconventional media and supports, Selby is well-versed in traditional techniques, as seen in Water Splitter. Executed with oil on panel, the painting hints at the absurdity of splitting water, as a symbol for American apartheid.
Selby’s oeuvre touches on universal themes of justice and solidarity, yet remains deeply personal. Having experienced the Jim Crow era and segregation first-hand growing up in the South, Selby uses his art practice to process and indict a period that may have ended in one iteration but continues to today in many forms. Selby lives and works in Wiscasset, Maine where he paints full-time in his home studio.