Kalen Na'il Roach "King Within A King"

April 14 through May 7, 2017


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Deli Gallery is pleased to announce King Within A King by Kalen Na’il Roach. The exhibition which contains all new work will be the artist’s first solo show. Roach maneuvers within photography, collage,and installation creating from an archive of family photographs, memories, or stories told to him by relatives.

The exhibition contains a series of collaged kindergarten-grade school portraits of the artist, a functional portrait backdrop, and a range of altered, archival images of his own or his families. To Roach, the past is not just a place full of questions and ambiguity, but also a driving force for creation and examination of his present-day relationships.

On display are forty-eight unique collage works made from a single portrait of the artist as a child. Through his repeated, unrelenting exploration of alternative and unconventional techniques, Roach seeks to complicate or reconcile his relationship with who is in the image and his present day self. Standing in the center of the gallery is a functional portrait studio Roach has constructed using his grandfather’s painting as the scene for the backdrop. Several of the artist’s grandfather’s paintings can be found throughout the exhibition. Roach uses scratches, markings, and adornments not only as a way to create a more full and complex view of his family and their internal relationships but also to reconstruct his own memory and connection with the past.

"While I constantly gather more and more images of the people I’m most familiar with, from times that I remember and times I don’t, I see so much yet so little. Family I thought I knew, family I used to know, and family I have never known... The people in these images occupy space in a photographic facade that ages, rips, and tears. So much so, that they become one and the same. Still, I’m looking at and past the surface for things that may not be there. Can I see myself? Can my family see themselves? Can we see each other? Are these intertwined histories we all share embedded in the layers of paper and image? I don’t know, but I can’t stop looking."

Kalen Na'il Roach (b. 1992) currently lives and works in Maryland. He graduated with his BFA in Photography from St. John's University in 2014 and completed the International Center of Photography's One-Year General Studies Program in 2013. Roach’s work is anchored in the image of his own family and questions how this image is created from both the photographic archive and memory. His work explores and reconstructs the physical, metaphorical, and illusionary surfaces of photographs.