Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London presents Alvaro Barrington’s A Taste of Chocolate, curated by Norman Rosenthal and exhibited concurrent with Utopia at the Stag Monuments, a significant exhibition of the work of Joseph Beuys.
Barrington’s own studio installation in the Ropac gallery plays on a ‘Beuysian energy’ perceived by the curator in the work of this contemporary Venezuelan artist, and recalls the 1982 installation of Beuys’ studio at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, curated by Rosenthal almost 40 years ago.
This new iteration, site specific to the London Gallery’s Ely room, enables viewers to visit an active space in which Barrington’s generative process is clearly visible. It’s intention is to reproduce the same energy as that found in the artist’s studio and so to capture Barrington’s unique approach. Barrington explains: ‘seen in a new space, this new installation allows different relationships to emerge’. The first iteration took place at MoMA PS1 in late 2017.
Barrington’s multimedia work combines materials including textiles, painting, mixed media, drawing, photography, and print. Barrington began to sew as a way to explore historical and cultural references, connecting with his Grenadian aunts, who themselves were masterful sewists. The artist has explored the formal action of sewing as an access point into this otherwise traditionally gendered textile art practice. His intimate compositions focus on single subjects in close-up: flowers, vegetation, facial expressions and body parts. Recurring motifs in his works, such as the hibiscus flower or phallic symbols, are often inspired by the works of others, highlighting the importance of dialogue in Barrington’s work: influence and exchange are integral to his practice. The same associative logic that underpins his inspiration can be seen to permeate the accumulation of various mediums, themes and practices present and revealed in this studio setting.