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Scott Roben

Painting and drawing

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art by somerville artistScottRoben titledBase motive
Base motive Oil on canvas 100 x 120 cm
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Artist's Statement

These paintings are about touch as a kind of vision. Accretion, build-up, scraping away — leaving impressions. Many of them are made in oil paint using a process that resembles frottage, so that traces of my immediate environment register in the painting. I am working from archival photographs, and sometimes from life. The reference image is a structure, or a script, that I can work off of. Making the painting is semi-improvisatory. 

Frottage is a way of working blind. Some parts of the image are not seen, but felt for. These paintings began with an image of a gay cruising site that no longer exists, and I’m looking for a material relationship to that history, or a fantasy of it: feeling in the dark. 


Scott Roben is an artist and writer living in Berlin, and currently, Cambridge. He holds an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. From 2018-2019, he was a participant in the Berlin Program for Artists from 2018-2019. His writings on art have appeared in Frieze, Art in America, and Texte zur Kunst as well as in several artist monographs. His most recent exhibition, “Interior Garden,” explored the site and history of Hannah Höch’s former garden in Berlin through drawing and video produced on site. It was realized in collaboration with the artist Johanna Tiedtke and the art historian Leah Pires at the Museum Reinickendorf in Berlin and is planned to travel to the Goethe Institut, NY, next winter with an accompanying catalogue published by Hatje & Cantz. Currently, he is a teaching assistant in Harvard’s department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies.

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