By Avane Ervin
Photos by Avane Ervin
In celebration of the recent opening of a his new art gallery, New Orleans native, Ernest Robert hosted a welcoming event on April 9, 2019, where the community was able to see his newest additions as a professional artist. The E. Robert Gallery is one of two black-owned art galleries located in the Lower Garden district of New Orleans and has made its debut on 1912 Magazine Street.
“I opened the shop because painting is a part of my life, painting is like breathing to me… I opened the shop to share my life with the world,” Robert said as he spoke to several of his guests. Art has been a part of Robert’s life since he was five years old, he explained.
“Everything I saw around me I wanted to draw, everything was art…That’s when I knew art was for me,” he said. Growing up in Algiers, Robert said he found a love for recreating his world through the art presented to him through his city. He also attended Oliver Walker Perry High School in Algiers, where he continued practicing drawing and painting.
There have been many challenges being an African American artist in a world that he believes does not appreciate the value of art in the same way it used to. He mentioned that his biggest challenge is the desire to have the majority of his works be black ordinary people and public figures.
“I paint so many black people and they want me to mix my art up for other people,” Robert said, “but as a black man, that’s all I know how to be,” he added. Robert said he understands that it is important to be versatile, but that he has a specific vision of the kinds of works he wants to create. “I paint what comes to mind, I don’t see Black or White. I paint what makes me feel good,” he added.
His art is unique, he said, because of the messages he delivers. Robert said he strives to paint images that reflect situations he is going through that may be valuable to others. “Most things that I paint are not people that we all know the stories about, but they are creations of stories I am trying to tell,” he said. His art ranges from portraits of friends that have impacted his life to celebrities that have influenced many communities.
As his art is a reflection of who he is, Robert said he is most inspired by his children as they are the motivation he needs to keep going. “They give me a reason to do what I love,” he said. “I do it for them so that they know anything they desire to have is attainable through hard work, dedication, and commitment,” he added.
Robert said he has found a lot of inspiration through the words of others that keep him going, especially from his mother. His mother Annette Robert said she is proud of her son and appreciates how he has been eager and unafraid to go against the status quo.
“I have not always understood it, but I have grown to respect it,” she said, laughing. “There is one aspect of his art I have always found to be the most intriguing, it is the arrangement of brilliant colors in each picture,” she added.
Through trial and error, Robert learned what makes his art successful and what makes it worth looking at. “Part of good art is creating images that remain pure to yourself, and reconceiving your world,” Robert said.