Stephen Appleby-Barr, The Invisible College

Gabrielle Moser
Narwhal Art Projects, Toronto,
October 29–November 29, 2009
Stephen Appleby-Barr The Invisible College (detail), 2009.
photo : GStab, courtesy Narwhal Art Projects, Toronto
Narwhal Art Projects, Toronto,
October 29–November 29, 2009
[En anglais]

Even from the sidewalk outside of Narwhal Art Projects’ Queen Street West gallery, we can tell we are entering the fantastical, complex world of Stephen Appleby-Barr’s The Invisible College. Framed within the gallery’s large picture window is an austere white plaster bust of a young boy, immaculately dressed in a breasted blazer, who has been draped in a swath of red velvet and outfitted with a mysterious black dunce cap and Appleby-Barr’s trademark bandit mask. Frighteningly anonymous, yet strangely whimsical, the young boy seems the ideal figurehead for the painter’s fictional guild of sixteenth-century European philosophers: an unnamed and esoteric society from which Appleby-Barr draws the cast of characters depicted in his highly detailed oil portraits.

Though Appleby-Barr employs many of the now-clichéd representational strategies—animal heads on human figures being one of the most obvious—which first came to prominence through the work of Marcel Dzama and the Royal Art Lodge, his use of seemingly outmoded tropes from oil -portraiture and his deft skill at photorealistic representation sets his work apart from other DIY-inspired, “outsider” artists. Earnestness and sincerity trump hipster irony in Appleby-Barr’s practice, lending his portraits a refreshing playfulness.

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Cet article parait également dans le numéro 68 - Sabotage

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