Sara Barker: Images
Wonky, freestanding structures fill the gallery space. Like aluminium skeletons stripped of all flesh, yet simultaneously waiting to be enshrouded with a sleek veneer, these objects sit on the fence between two and three-dimensional design. Their sketchy outlines appear like unyielding De Stijl paintings, layered with fading primary-tinted pastel hues, revealing their imperfections upon closer inspection.
From a distance they seem stark, shy, uncertain and sad, each angular line echoing similar characteristics perpendicular to the next. But step closer and the thinly painted surfaces become alive with textures, shades and colours, as if viewing something minute and mundane through a microscope to reveal the life of its undergrowth. Inches away a mixture of polyester resin, woodfiller, gouache paints and glue will infiltrate your nostrils. It is in the fine grains that little painterly compositions and narratives become active.
Barker, who currently lives and works in Amsterdam, trained in painting and it is clearly in the layering and subtracting of painterly substances that she finds pleasure. However, these works are reliant on a contrasting backdrop to offset their true potential. The gallery’s office-like furnishings do not adequately provoke that dialogue, and these sparse frameworks remain stoic creatures, covered with the moss of their own tombstones.
While the individual pieces are appealing, their repetition causes them to lose power. There is a sameness to all the works and they struggle to transcend their cumulative cloning effect.