Prophet Royal Robertson

 

Royal Robertson was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana, on October the 21st, 1936; he attended school until the eight grade and quitted to learn the job of sign painter for local farmers and small family businesses. In his early twenties he traveled to California and worked as a farmhand; he was back in Louisiana a few months later to care for his dying mother. In 1955 he married Adell Brent with whom he had eleven children. In 1974 Adell left their house with the kids perhaps leaving with another man or thrown out by Robertson himself. Royal gradually soaked into an uneasy existence made of misogynous hate, personal interpretations of the Christian truth and visions (broadcasted) from other worlds: he took a correspondence course in art advertised for on the back of a matches box, gathered magic markers, tempera paints, colored pencils and begun representing on large cardboards those very visions where aliens show him the end of our time and the new world to be. On the versos complex numerological formulas and calendars relate Adell’s betrayals with the days of the liberation from Evil. He proclaimed himself a prophet and built his own sanctuary: soon enough his entire house and courtyard were covered with signs and writings warning sinful whores and bastards of all species to keep the hell out. Biblical quotes support both warnings and the prophecy. In 1992 hurricane Andrew wiped out this clever theological installation; luckily enough this was not before a chosen few could penetrate Robertson’s house, story and soul and rescue (pieces of) his art. Royal died suddenly in 1997 having just begun seeing of his kids again. His work can be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, at the American Visionary Art Museum and at The Museum of Everything; it is featured in Scott Ogden’s film Make and inspired Sufjan Steven’s record The Age of Adz.

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