Blackston is pleased to present Shadow Structures, New York City-based artist Agnes Barley’s first exhibition of paintings at the gallery.
Barley’s reductive and methodical painting practice focuses on construction and deconstruction of structure and form to explore ideas about place, context, time and meaning. The artist’s recent two-sided, standing, one-dimensional paintings employ thin veils of paint to reference abstract, metaphorical, folded landscapes – and the shadows within these constructions —through the build-up and breakdown of painted geometric shapes.
The compositions on each surface exhibit a structural order – and horizontal and vertical orientation—but the relationships created between these simple forms in color, shape and construction activate each surface in dynamic fashion. Barley’s interest in painting is as much in the rational form as it is in what cannot be seen or what is revealed in the negative space and the relativity between elements in her work.
The entirety of any painting in this series cannot be seen, although several painted components on any single side carry over to other works and are repeated throughout the body of work. As these paintings are not revealed in their whole, and can only be experienced in relation to another piece or side, they require the viewer’s engagement and insertion into the experience of the painting.
In her reductive approach to art-making, Barley infuses vitality and movement – and something altogether more elusive: form into emptiness and the converse. The economy and language of form, the precise yet exploratory use of color and Barley’s brushstroke all evince a serene quality that is belied by something more roiling and transformative at the core of the work. In their elemental distillation, Barley’s paintings elicit a numinal awareness: an intersection of structure and content that result in an elemental tethering, a connection to place or essence – and to essential humanity.
Barley lives and works in New York City. She was born in 1970 in Jacksonville, Florida. She received her MFA in 1997 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria, after studying at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and Parsons School of Design in New York, NY. Her work has been exhibited in New York City, including Selections Spring 2010: Sea Marks at The Drawing Center, and throughout Europe.