Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Ballad of Barrie J

Launching g39’s new season of solo exhibitions is perhaps one of the most contested contemporary artists coming out of Wales today. Through his prolific scribblings, cartoons, astute observations and humorous commentaries, Barrie J Davies dismantles our understanding of the term’ artist’ and in its place he has refashioned a persona whose mantra “Barrie J Davies is an artist” plays over and over in the background of his world. We are presented with an abundance of works that appear to have been quickly dashed off: biro cartoons, subversive signs felt-tipped and opportunistically taped in public places, everyday objects appropriated in a comedic manner. Barrie’s practice comprises a number of lo-fi strategies for conveying apparently inconsequential thoughts or throwaway witticisms – and perhaps that’s all they are. Or perhaps collectively they are saying something larger and more complex about the value of art and nature of being an artist. Barrie’s work conveys deliberately low production values. It doesn’t even appear to be revealing any great truth about the human condition. Has g39 been hoodwinked into a great con, drawn in by the repetitious slogan “Barrie J Davies is an artist”? Or is there something else going on here?In a photograph of a residential street a felt-tipped note in front of a pile of back bin bags warns ‘Public artwork. Do not touch’. Taken in isolation, this confidently plays with a prevailing public opinion of contemporary art and also references existing works by well-known artists, including Ceal Floyer and Gavin Turk. As a whole, Barrie’s practice seems to be suggesting that the Artist’s role in society is solitary, an outsider, whose purpose is never cut-and-dried, and that generally the Artist’s lot is not a happy one.The Ballad of Barrie J runs from Saturday 8th April to Saturday 6th May.g39 is open Wednesday - Saturday 11-5.30 (please note that the exhibition will be closed on 14th and 15th April for the Easter Weekend).