Lucy Barlow, Delicate Boundaries
23 April ' 16 May 2009
'For a long time I've been the girl who does the drawings of birds and cakes'.
First Floor Projects are delighted to present Delicate Boundaries, a solo show of work by Lucy Barlow. Shedding a formal narrative, Lucy Barlow's new collection of abstract watercolour, gouache landscapes and fine art drawings reveal a significant departure from her previous work, 'I am still in control, but it is less controlling than my previous work. It is expansive. I am still a spectator, still questioning, but without the questions impeding on the natural progression of the work itself.'
The fine art drawings are reminiscent of her previous whimsical illustrations, which she describes as 'contained, formal compositionsâ¦very controlled, very fine, lyrical line drawings'. But this control, she indicates was a metaphorical boundary. Her new drawings have evolved; by using coloured or lead pencils on paper, dip pens and inks filled in with watercolour, she creates wonderfully witty, tongue in cheek drawings such as Bears Say No that participate in the negative space around them, and that still exhibit some of her old humour; 'there is a childish part of me that doesn't want to give up the ghost, or stop being silly'.
Intuitive colour placement ensures Barlow's abstracts remain anti-formulaic, creating a tense sense of push and pull between the background and foreground. This way of working with colour, Barlow believes, was inspired by Helen Frankenthaler's unprimed canvases, 'vast vistas and sea, so alive they breathe'. Moments in time are captured but remain fluid through the depth of tension between Barlow's colours; paintings such as Fire Ladders fizz with freshness and light. Lucy Barlow's work possesses an intentional sense of the unresolved ' 'there are questions that have no answers, and I am trying to reflect this without the ends being tied up perfectly in a bow'.
The work of Louise Bourgeois encouraged Barlow to experiment with materials and engage in a constant monologue with herself, while using her work as therapy. 'I used to feel guilty and selfish, so self-indulgent, being an artist' she says, 'but the Bourgeois show really reminded me of the importance of creativity and the arts in the world. There is a wonderful freedom of expression.' Time, not frozen but physically 'gestural', creates a moment for dialogue between the visual work and the viewer ' the paintings encourage an accessing, even an embracing of the dormant parts of oneself. 'The communication of the visual bypasses words' says Barlow, something she experiences first-hand when encountering work by Louise Bourgeois. In response to this lesson she has learnt from Bourgeois, Barlow's work searches for 'chaos and imperfection, while finding comfort within that formless, liberating way of working'.
Lucy Barlow studied at Central St. Martins, and her work featured in group shows at the Modern Art Oxford (2004) and the Institute of Contemporary Art (2005). Since graduating from Oxford Brookes University in 2006, Lucy Barlow has participated in several collaborative shows, including Obsessions at Modern Art Oxford (2008) and Sarah Brown and Lucy Barlow, Oxford Town Hall (2009). This is her first solo show.
This is the inaugural exhibition of First Floor Projects. From his London home, James Tregaskes will host a variety of exhibitions by new contemporary artists. The gallery heralds a return to the salon, presenting and dealing art in a residential space.
For further information please contact Hannah Magor