John Roberts

Shaped by his family history, John Roberts paints to express the extraordinary within everyday environments. Tiny gravestones, farm equipment, perfectly pitched roofs, dogs, lots of cats, and recurring characters are surrounded by sloping hills and curved lines of farm country. The paintings feel vaguely historic, coming from a time that’s not quite identifiable but familiar, nonetheless. Roberts’ nostalgic paintings remind viewers of generations, ways of life, and tranquility that no longer exist. Woven into his works are stories of first hunts, supernatural experiences, and family legends that the surrounding land has seen. They are warm, haunting, quiet, and deceptively complex.

There is a reverence for people that Roberts emphasizes in his work. Within the celebration of the land, which has been in his family for eight generations, the people - daughters, uncles, grandmothers, sons - are the cornerstones, centerpieces, and foundation of his paintings and life. Three matriarchs look through the window with unmoved expressions. Although an eerie encounter, they’re not there to pass judgment or reprimand, but rather to reassure. A father works out his demons on a woodpile under a crescent moon. A son’s first hunt ends in remorse. Roberts joins American scene painters like Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and Carroll Cloar who’ve shared life in Middle America with mythical, fable-like imagery that reveals a more honest and dark, yet somehow tender endorsement of the heartland.

John Roberts was born in Memphis, TN, grew up in Searcy, AR. He lives in Sharon, TN, on land that his distant grandmother bought and settled in 1838. He holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Harding University and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Arkansas. As a long-time tombstone etcher, he comes by supernatural encounters honestly. He lives on his family farm with his wife and eight children.