Saturday, 27 August 2011

Phyllida Barlow, 'Rig', Hauser & Wirth, London

Phyllida Barlow, 'Untitled: banners', 2010, fabric, timber, polystyrene, cement, scrim © Phyllida Barlow, courtesy the artist/Hauser and Wirth, photo: Oliver Ottenschlager            
Waving the flag fro abstraction, Phyllida Barlow remains a unique British talent and has been so for the last 40 years. Her new exhibition entitled 'Rig' from 2nd September to 22nd October at Hauser & Wirth, London, shows little sign of her strength waning. In this show she is using as usual a variety of materials from the urban environment of recycled ephemera, such as fabric, sticks, polystyrene and cement.

Phyllida Barlow ‘untitled: broken shelf 2’, 2011, timber lengths, plaster, scrim, fabric 
© Phyllida BarlowCourtesy the artist/Hauser and Wirth, photo: Mike Bruce
'Barlow's sculptural practice is centred on her experimentation with these materials and the process of re-contextualising them to create large-scale, three-dimensional collages. Her constructions are often crudely painted in industrial or synthetic colours, resulting in abstract, seemingly unstable forms: the seams of their construction left completely visible, revealing the dynamics of their making.'

There is a strong anti-monumental quality to her work that grows on you and retains its real power for when you are in front of it. This physicality, I think, is vital when responding to abstraction: 'Things aren't just visual. They are sensations of physicality.' (Phyllida Barlow, 'Modern Painters', Summer 2011.)

Phyllida Barlow was born in 1944 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. She lives and works in London. In the late 1960s, Barlow began teaching at the Slade School of Art as Professor of Fine Art. In 2009, she stopped teaching in order to focus on her own work. 

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