Sequentially installed across three galleries, this exhibition presents an entire new body of work by Royal Academician Phyllida Barlow.
Royal Academy of Arts
23rd Feb – 23rd June 2019
Barlow’s early work responded to the Modernist sculpture that had emerged in Britain and Europe in the 1950s and early 1960s. As her practice evolved, she took against its weighty formalism and monumentalism, sensing an imposed morality and gravitated towards Arte Povera in Europe and sculptural developments in the USA.
Barlow continues to explore much of the spirit of these more fragile, but nonetheless confident formal sculptural statements in her own work.
By producing large-scale works and installations from everyday, industrial materials and expedient fabrication processes, Barlow challenges the ideas of monumentally and authority associated with traditional sculptural materials and methods.
Space is one of the starting points for Barlow, she refers to it as the ‘protagonist’ of the work she creates to inhabit it. Not site specific as such, the installations development is however dependent in some part on her response to a particular settings and the to volume and limitations it presents.
This exhibition of Barlow’s work is possibly one of my favourites to date. I was fortunate to see her work at the Venice Biennale in 2017 and its brutal colours and forms in a much darker space felt oppressive and uncomfortable, perhaps that was her intention. However this collection of sculptures feels to me much more coherent and well executed. Perhaps being at home in the RA suits her well. It certainly suits the sculptures and whilst its a small collation one could easily spend hours in the space engaging with the sculptures and as Barlow herself says ‘sculpture needs to be given time, you need to just wait with it and become the moving object that it instant so this action between the still and the moving is incredibly demanding for all.’
Phyllida Barlow is on the at Royal Academy until 23rd June and its well worth a visit if you are near by. Also currently running are the Bill Viola and Renaissance Nudes so give yourself plenty of time to see all three exhibitions.
-Kate Higginson, Director PRINT CLUB LONDON