Contemporary Colombian born artist Johan Barrios considers himself a figurative painter but not a portraitist. Despite the fact that his subjects are always humans, their faces are obscured and they exist in an unspecified location, transforming them into objects rather than subjects. The artist has an upcoming solo show at Denmark’s KIRK Gallery and we’ve got a look at some of pieces for the show as well as his new limited edition sculpture releasing today.
Johan Barrios Recent Work
Combining illustration and paint, his mixed media artworks have a strong relationship to photography. The ideas for his pieces begin with a thought, then a quick sketch or words on paper that evolve into the meticulous process of capturing his idea in a photograph. From there he moves on to executing the painting or drawing from the selected photo.
In his artworks, the two mediums are inextricably connected and interchangeable. Johan explains “The photographic action is perpetuated by the painting, which the eyes of the spectator explore, in order to recognize amongst the bodies, the existence of an abstract landscape and the framing of the object that accompanies the scene but which maintains its independent character” (quote source)
Despite being painted in the realism genre, the composition, palette and obscured visages evoke an enigmatic surrealism. Often combining the human figure with another or with an object such as a chair, pillow or wall, the environments lack details and specifics. Instead the artist uses light and shadow, enshrouding the location in a mystery. Playing with a desaturated palette, the atmospheric quality is almost fog-like, further adding to the mysterious quality of his works.
“I think that during the process, each of these pieces presents a sculptural sensation in which the bodies are used as inanimate objects coupled unconsciously by their own weight. There is always a visible interaction manifesting between the subjects, objects in their presence, and the space they have found themselves in. The conversation that takes place becomes intriguing and surreal”- Johan Barrios
Barrios’ subjects appear to hide or strike lifeless postures (some might even say ‘exhausted’), but despite the body language, there is undeniable invitation to his compositions. One wants to look closer and explore the undefined world in which the subjects dwell.
In addition to these pieces Johan has recently turned one of his paintings (shown below), into a limited edition of a 10″ tall polyurethane resin sculpture.
Priced at $350 USD each, the REPOSO sculptures are available to order today directly from the artist.
Artist Biography (courtesy of Denmark’s Kirk Gallery):
Johan Barrios (b.1984) is a Columbian-born artist living and working in Houston, Texas.
His career started at the Academy of fine arts in Medellin, Columbia and his success later on led him to the United States, where he is based today.
As a general character Barrios has a unique ability to express powerful human emotions in a stroke, a color palette and a composition, with a fineness and sensitivity that can be difficult to describe. A tenderness that hits so strongly it can be hard to stay on your feet in meeting them.
Besides the incredible technique in his work and the unique ability to make us feel when studying his mysterious absorbing paintings and drawings, he has been touted as one of the most significant young visual artists of today.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for his upcoming solo show at Denmark’s KIRK Gallery!
Shown at top:
all images courtesy of the artist