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    Photo: Cary Whittier
early 1980s
Ballpoint pen, pencil, paint, on poster board
22 x 28 inches
Collection of
High Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Unlike his aggressively assertive yard signs, Robertson's “Visions” depict something else entirely. Much more than escapism (or even psychosis), they are painstakingly utopian and contain iconography and hopes closely related to those in the work of other African American vernacular artists. (Head up the Mississippi River a few hundred miles, for example, and in Memphis there resides a similar figure, Joe Light, with his confrontational exterior signs and a counterposed, enchanted personal visual language decoded from pop culture and television cartoons.) Despite their televisual formats, Robertson’s drawings—primarily his early efforts, before market forces began to encourage the most prurient aspects of his anti-Adell furor—do not appear to have been intended for widespread community broadcast. They instead illustrated his private visions, and often date the referenced vision to an hour, day, and year long past.