Track 16 Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by two veteran tattoo artists, Don Ed Hardy and Bob Roberts. The association of these two men dates back to 1977, when Roberts joined Hardy in operating Hardy's seminal Realistic Studio and Tattoo City in San Francisco. During this period they established an innovative approach to the ancient art of tattooing which has since mutated into the present international craze of involving the client in the image process and expanding the parameters of the medium. Natives of Southern California, both Hardy and Roberts came to tattooing from a fine arts background. The exhibition's opening reception will take place on Saturday, March 8, 2003, from 6 to 9 P.M. The exhibition will run through April 12, 2003. Gallery hours are 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday.
After working with Hardy for a few years, Roberts moved to New York; he eventually resettled in Los Angeles, while Hardy remained in San Francisco and continued to travel regularly to Japan, where he honed the East/West fusion that is a hallmark of both men's work. For well over ten years, both artists have concentrated on painting while continuing to work on custom tattoo commissions at their respective studios: Roberts at Spotlight Tattoo in L.A., Hardy at Tattoo City in San Francisco.
Roberts works in the traditional medium of watercolor on paper, creating dense, fanatically detailed compositions that draw from traditional American tattoo flash, Tibetan thangkas paintings, and outlaw motorcycle imagery. Hardy's paintings are acrylic on synthetic or exotic handmade paper, often mounted in the traditional Chinese scroll format. They are also inspired by tattoo imagery, as well as the Wild West, surf culture, and classical Chinese and Japanese painting. Both artists create enigmatic icons that combine humor, violence, sexuality, and beauty, rendered with a sophisticated mastery of materials. Roberts and Hardy challenge themselves with a system of irreversible marks, as opposed to the corrections and overpainting of Western traditions.
Roberts's experience as a musician (as saxophonist, he was part of the milieu of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, and he also played with L.A. lowrider band Ruben and the Jets, Hot Tuna, the New York Dolls, and San Francisco punk band the Offs), biker, and iconoclast flavors his personal work. His paintings have largely enjoyed an underground reputation among the international tattoo community and the Hollywood entertainment industry. Hardy, a lifelong surfer, student of Asian culture, and classically trained printmaker, has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums, curated numerous exhibitions, and written and published more than twenty books on tattooing and popular culture. As collaborators, cohorts, and hell-raisers for more than twenty-five years, these guys will put on a nonpareil Main Event in the annals of California art.