Monday, May 26, 2014

BRICOLAGE: Art With Dimensional Materials - Phyllida Barlow

I am making this short series of posts about artists who will be included in my talk at the Eighth Annual Encaustic Conference (June 6 - 8 in Provincetown, Mass.) because I want to pique some interest in the work and to show short videos that animate the work in a way that still pictures can't.

Phyllida Barlow, one view of "Dock" installation at Tate Britain, 2014

Phyllida Barlow is a sculptor whose work I became aware of after watching a video in an ArtDaily Newsletter (this one is a long video). I had never heard of her, but that was my loss. She has been teaching and making sculpture for a long while and is very well known in Britain. I admire her particularly because she has just reached age 70 and began showing her own work publicly just a few years ago. She's now in the Hauser & Worth stable and so showing worldwide in some of the world's most enormous galleries. Any artist, particularly a woman, who has been working that long and has just been "discovered" is well worth a close look.

What interested me about her was not only her work but what she had to say about it and about sculpture in general. She spoke about time as an element in sculpture and about choreographing the audience's views of sculpture because of the way the work is placed. She also mentioned the pomposity and grandiosity of older sculptural works, especially in Britain. (I am envisioning the general-on-the-horse kind of thing that viewers have to strain their necks to see from a viewpoint far below.)

The relationship of space and the work is very important to her and she spoke of her works as making "an aggressive invasion of space." She has a lot to say about materiality, surface, destruction, surprise and invention. What an interesting person she is and what a wonderful teacher she must have been for so many artists who went on to become art stars on their own.

Here is a short video I found of her speaking about the Tate Britain installation, Dock, pictured above.

And here is another video about an installation called Hoard, where she speaks about her inspiration coming from an interview with a man whose home was upturned in Hurricane Katrina. She is careful to say that although she may begin with an idea such as this, she lets the materials themselves lead her to something new in the actual work so that she is making discoveries along with the audience.


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