Wednesday, September 13, 2006

a review of the artwork of Barrie J Davies by Richard Higlett

Every artist was first an amateur’ When I look at the work of Barrie J. Davies, I am reminded of this quote by the American author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (*1). The word amateur has attracted a stigma in modern society and I need to stress this reference is not a criticism of his practise. Experience has lead me to release the better you are at something the less you are able to do it. For example, say you are good at metal fabrication, over time you maybe promoted to a management position or if you are a sculpture the work becomes bigger or your workload increases so you need to employ staff, all taking you further from what you are best at as you enter the realm of the professional. (Here I would argue not because you are good just more efficient, this is something was can discuss another day…..) Barrie J. Davies is autonomous. His spontaneous graphic style is from the land of the biro, marker pen and correction fluid. It resists the pull of the computer and the homogenisation that accompanies it use. He operates as social observer, creating works that convey a sense that he is continuously analysing the relationship with the written word and the image as a form of visual device, while interpreting his immediate, city environment. Like all artists, to a greater or lesser extent, his work is a reflection of his personally. When he makes a statement such as ‘ Barrie J. Davies is an artist’ it can also be read like a question, while not a statement attempting to justify his worth as an artist or as a statement of ego. Like the perennial ‘is it art?’ phrase, it has no definitive response. This potential for a conceptual reading to his work is balanced by an aesthetic which could currently be referred to as ‘low-fi’ but it is not the result of a pre-determined intention to make work from everyday, common place materials but more a result of what is to hand and resonant to his working environment. Like the amateur he remains very close to his work, a singular voice remaining with what he is best at, producing work in many mediums that is humorous, essentially optimistic, an extension of the self and the way only he sees it. Ref: (1). From Letters and Social Aims: Progress of Culture, 1876 by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) Richard Higlett 7th August 2006