This spring NOMA is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by conceptual artist Dario Robleto, featuring sculpture and works on paper from the past ten years. Dario Robleto: The Prelives of The Blues centers on the historical and emotional resonance of music, focusing on how music is absorbed and transferred across generations transcending barriers of race, time, and death.

Over the course of his career Dario Robleto (born in 1972 in San Antonio, Texas) became internationally known for creating thoughtful sculptures comprised of unusual materials imbued with conceptual significance. His choices of artistic materials reflect an ongoing interest in the specifics of history and music and, at the same time, universal human longings common to all time periods. His past works have included dinosaur bones, wartime memorabilia such as bullets, letters, and hair wreaths, and carefully chosen melted vinyl records and audiotapes.

The exhibition Dario Robleto: The Prelives of the Blues presents an imaginative retracing of the transference of blues, jazz, and rock n’ roll (genres with distinct African American roots) across time. The show incorporates a selection of old and new works, including a new piece specifically inspired by New Orleans, geared to raise questions as to how musical taste is formed, and what it means for traditions and famous musical moments to be carried across generations.

Several works in the exhibition draw from Dario’s own biography. The Sin Was In Our Hips, 2000, for example, points to rock music playing a role in the artist’s own conception. Meanwhile The Minor Chords Are Ours, 2010, poignantly displays three generations of music (his own, his mother’s and his grandmother’s) represented by the audiotapes of the minor or “melancholy” chords from their vinyl collections. Despite these autobiographical notes, however, the works aim for a humanist understanding of what it means to love music, particularly across lines of class and heritage.

The decision to invite Robleto to NOMA was motivated by the strong affinity he has demonstrated in his work for music and investigating American history. Having visited New Orleans several times over the past three years, Robleto was inspired by the integration of music into public rituals, such as second lines, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, club music, and jazz funerals. Robleto was also struck by how familial lineages and traditions are a strong part of New Orleans’s cultural identity, as manifested in the family plots and mausoleums in our city cemeteries.

Dario Robleto: The Prelives of the Blues is on view in the Frederick R. Weisman galleries from March 23 through September 16, 2012.

Lion or Lamb

Dario Robleto

Our Sin Was…

Dario Robleto

The Minor Chords (detail)

Dario Robleto

The Minor Chords (detail) [2]

Dario Robleto

Sky Once Choked 2

Dario Robleto

Sky Once Choked 4

Dario Robleto