Hanging excessive on the partitions above our heads, work of clouds encircle the South London Gallery. There’s climate coming in, rising increasingly more troubled as we glance. Alvaro Barrington has used concrete to color the clouds, scuffed and trowelled on to gorgeously dyed, high-end Hermès yak wool blankets. Because the storm approaches, the help adjustments to burlap. As a lot as these work may, at a stretch, look again to JMW Turner or to Constable’s cloud research, summary expressionism and informalism are in there, too. It’s motion portray with out the angst, except, that’s, you are concerned about masking luxurious blankets with builder’s concrete. This collision of supplies, the one despoiling the opposite, is a part of the purpose of those intemperate work, and one of many a number of methods wherein the artist creates his debased and impure artwork, which makes an attempt to mirror the textures, complexities and inequalities of the trendy world.
Born in 1983 in Venezuela to Grenadian and Haitian migrant employees, Barrington grew up in Grenada and Brooklyn. He studied portray in New York after which on the Slade in London, the place he at present lives. You by no means know what he’s going to do or the place his artwork will go subsequent. Artists usually used to complain about being “skied” by whoever hung their photos thus far up the wall you couldn’t get a correct view, however clouds are supposed to be seen from afar; in any other case, you’re within the fog.
Barrington’s present is much less an exhibition of discrete particular person works as an set up masquerading as an old style academy or salon hold. It’s a great way of coping with the SLG’s tall single house, which was accomplished in 1891, when such curatorial preparations have been widespread. Barrington has tailored the manners of the Nineteenth-century image gallery to revel within the complexities of the current and an imagined near-future.
Spider the Pig, Pig the Spider takes as one in every of its beginning factors the inequalities of north and south, exacerbated by local weather emergency, globalisation and industrialisation. Beneath the clouds, the work and drawings that jostle for consideration at a extra human eye stage are introduced in cumbersome concrete, aluminium and glossy metal frames. As a lot architectural gadgets as frames, redolent of brutalism and company high-sheen decor, they offer manner, on the other lengthy wall, to frames of brightly colored painted wood slats and corrugated metallic. These are supposed to remind us of the advert hoc development work of a poorer south, of low cost constructing supplies and the favella. I’m reminded of Brazilian Tropicália, redone as gaudy poverty stylish. The place do the frames finish and the work start? They’re all of a bit. Barrington intersperses these cumbersome objects with roughly painted banana leaves.
All of which appears an enormous step to Peppa Pig and Louise Bourgeois’ gigantic sculpted spider, each of whom are referenced in Barrington’s work. These creatures proof themselves within the pink limbs, cartoonish fingers and trotters, and bushy, gray and black spidery appendages that cross their surfaces. Toddler fantasy meets grownup darkness, you may say, besides there’s no darkness extra chilling than that of childhood.
Besides it isn’t actually Peppa and it isn’t precisely Bourgeois’ Maman both who populate Barrington’s fractious, unruly works. In some way George Orwell’s Napoleon, the porcine dictator in Animal Farm, and Anansi the Spider from the west African people story are in there, too. I fear in regards to the pig and the spider. Are they an merchandise? After which there are the Eighties songs, the riffs on different artists and the autobiographical particulars that litter Barrington’s multilayered and, at instances, complicated artwork; it has taken me days to familiarize yourself with it.
It’s all sufficient to make you begin climbing the partitions, that are themselves painted in bands and blocks of flat color, a form of colour-coded index of climate and light-weight, air pollution sunsets, nightfalls and dawns and gray afternoons.
The complete expertise is sort of a gigantic, immersive online game with a number of ranges, wormholes, diversions and escape hatches. It’s onerous to know the place you might be. This sense of being unmoored and caught between worlds is sign to the contradictions and contrasts of Barrington’s personal peripatetic life.
In a single work, a sport map from Nintendo’s Tremendous Mario World gives a background, very similar to a fraction of historic cartography. Trotters and spider legs are sprayed and smeared on the under-surfaces of his glazed work, abstracted into compound brushstrokes, casting shadows on the layers beneath, which themselves reiterate or echo the identical kinds in accents of closely brushed color. These usually recall to mind the free patches and licks of different painters. You’ll be able to simply lose your self in these box-like agglomerations, which additionally embrace reproductions of previous monochrome images of metropolis tenements and sidewalks with passersby, a towering Brooklyn Bridge and different metropolis views printed on acetate and sandwiched inside their a number of layers. I start to see issues that aren’t there or are merely glimmering reflections of the works that hold on the other wall. Behind the imagery there are areas of canvas sutured and sewn with brightly colored yarn – a reference, maybe, to a spider’s internet.
Typically works by different artists are connected to the floor – a plain define drawing of a person in his underpants, Casting Attractive Twinky Man, from a collection of homosexual porn drawings by Dutch artist Dorus Tossijn, who was on the Slade with Barrington, and who has additionally supplied a small oil portray of Rihanna carrying a Giambattista Valli frock. Then there are the traces “I bless the rains down in Africa” from the hideous 1982 music Africa, by smooth rock band Toto (inexplicably, the official video of the music has had greater than 694m YouTube views), repeated over the floor of 1 portray, and lyrics from Rick James’s 1981 Ghetto Life printed throughout one other.
Bristling with visible references and optical intrigue, low tradition jokes and high-end artwork references, Barrington conflates the private, the political, social points and the idiosyncratic. Typically it’s a must to rise up shut, squint and peer by the glazed surfaces to see the world inside. The extra I decide up on the main points, the extra misplaced I’m. Look, there’s a helicopter. And right here some Ellsworth Kelly plant drawings, redrawn by Barrington and with the letters ICU repeated over them. The initials standing each for Intensive Care Unit and the textual content message abbreviation for “I see you”. You take a look at his work, they usually take a look at you.
Continuing by instinct and calculation, Barrington performs the portray sport at a number of simultaneous ranges. Individuals nonetheless speak about post-internet artwork, however all artwork is post-internet now. Though resolutely handmade, Barrington’s work belong to a world that’s completely entangled with each the actual and the digital. His rafts of references and supplies are inheritor to Robert Rauschenberg’s commodious strategy, which predicted a lot of our interconnected world, with out having the web to fall again on. It’s inconceivable to say that Barrington is one in every of a era ushering in a brand new species of portray, however he may be, even when it’s someplace between a pig and a spider.