Barry Reigate

One Cannot Get Fingerprints From A Rock

4 October 2014 till 6 December 2014

Reigate’s work is a powerful, eclectic and visually mind-blowing mix of symbolic pop imagery, geometrical design and multi-dimensional painterliness. Often on a large scale, with several components layered in spray paint, oil, pencil and other media, these stunningly arresting works both amuse and disturb, repel and seduce.

Of the 15 new pieces completed for this exhibition, a cartoon wolf figure populates several of the works – a talismanic figure that recalls the Three Little Pig fairy-tale and other hazy childhood memories. It is a typical Reigate motif. At times trapped below a nailed, latticed wooden structure, the wolf is imprisoned, disempowered. Atop, are geometric roundels and other shapes, symbols recalled from maths lessons, transformed into free-wheeling elements. These are complex, composite images that insist on multiple interpretations.

“The wolf was sourced from an advert; the wood structure is from the Smurfs, a machine that makes ‘things’,” says Reigate.

His work treads an electric line between figurative and abstract; the introduction of the wolf figure here a deliberate invitation to the viewer to attach meaning, in what he calls “the hallucinogenics” of art.

Consistent to Reigate’s art is an emphasis on drawing. The exhibition will showcase some of his extraordinary free-form graphic work in which familiar images and motifs are worked and reworked often incorporating elements of graffiti mark making. “My drawings are like a train of subconscious thought, images put down from exterior thoughts/ideas from outside the studio. They come out from a state of boredom. The closest association is the idea of drawing on the covers of academic books, when you are bored at school. Like a form of escape.”

Riotously rich, glossy and textured, graphic and painterly, this is the work of an artist who is self-admittedly excited by the idea of excess. “I’m interested in the idea of when to stop… Culture as excess of survival, airbrushing comic wolves and pigs, to pay the rent”.

In tandem with the exhibition, Reflex Editions is publishing the first monograph of Barry Reigate’s work.

Reigate has exhibited all over the world from Moscow to Verona. He was part of the “British Art Now” show at London’ Saatchi Gallery in 2010.

Opening and launch of book: Saturday, October 4th from 5 – 7 pm
The artist will be present to sign his book.

Show runs till December 6th 2014.
Who’s for dinner?
„we are afraid. our educational system tells us that we can all be big-ass winners.”
Love is a Dog from Hell, Charles Bukowski, 1977

„Stupid as a painter” is an old French proverb, made famous by Marcel Duchamp. He used it to express what he perceived as the dead end of a „retinal” painterly practice, turning out works that pleased the eye, but failed to excite the intellect. According to the father of conceptual art, this practice barred artists from the quintessential to all art – metaphysical speculation. In this sense the real painter’s stupidity becomes his very reason to pick up painting, describing a lack of knowledge and a desire to find out by yourself, on your ow terms, by your own means, with your hands and eyes. Not to articulate in words, but to create a visual language to examine and structure the world. Less weighed down by than grounded in its history Barry Reigate remains an independent observer, and takes on these qualities of painting, reinterpreting it as an expanded field that includes the ballpoint pen as well as the airbrush, offering an empowering back catalogue of contemporary artistic possibilities.

Looking at his paintings means entering a play of images, of visual puns, moments of slapstick, of visual narrative, with a plethora of subplots and references, full of altered meanings, double-entendres and ambiguities. It begins with the minute details and expands to the grand narrative. Beginning, say, with a stray line of blue marker, invisible from a few feet away, but oddly persistent as you draw nearer. Or the tiny, quickly pencilled half-closed eyes of a cartoon character, reminiscent of Pinocchio, the liar par excellence, next to what looks like residue of multicolored stripes, airbrushed over a slip of paper, since removed, leaving mere fragments from a rainbow, placed in a composition of scribbles and gestural marks, as well as drips and splotches

All relating to the process of painting, as a craft as well as a way to create images, characters and narratives. Reigate consciously makes his journey in the footsteps of giants, leading from the grandfather of bad painting and appropriation art, Duchamp’s pal Francis Picabia, to successors like Sigmar Polke (who rediscovered and elaborated the pictorial strategies of the Dada movement) and Martin Kippenberger (who not only in his painterly pastiches and grotesques, got heavily involved at the junction of high art and low life).

This comes at its most fluid and organic in Reigate’s drawings, that allow for a candid observation of the artist at work, thinking, speculating. Memphis designer Ettore Sotsass’ iconic „Carlton” shelf makes a prominent appearance on a small piece of paper, as if torn from a note pad, alongside a cast of two single eyeballs, a clown’s head, a rainbow, several balls, floral motifs, a sticker a happy green face and the letters WOW, a scribbled frog, a pyramid structure that mimics sculptures by Sol Lewitt’s (marked „Master” at the top), and an outline drawing of two feet in clown’s shoes extending to two hands holdings two balls, no body, but legs and balls with polka dots. It portrays a colorful, occasionally garish postmodernist inferno, an excruciating nightmare of reference mayhem – and thereby renders a mischievous presentation of the artist at work: no holds barred, anything goes, and everything must go. Jotted down in direct notations of thought, with impressive fluidity, it’s a cloudburst of a brain storm, revealing a glimpse of Reigate’s inquisitive artistic interests and investments: intuitively finding consistencies in the seemingly random, fusing them to chaotic arrangements, and creating intricate compositions suggesting complex narratives.

The large scale paintings follow the basic strategy of his drawings but present a different set of tactics to construct the overlapping layers as interwoven strands of images and meanings. They show off a wealth of visual content, made up of adversative elements, packed to maximum density, exhibiting an architectonic sense of precision in composing. The word composition and its musical connotation is not used lightheartedly here, as various forms of repetitions, in protagonists, style, technique, form and color are some of the reoccurring features. Some are easily recognizable, like the three pigs and the big bad wolf from the well-known fairytale, others less so, like a wooden contraption from a Smurf animation.

Or basic geometrical forms and graphs, nicked from illustrations of equations in a set of standardized SAT math tests, which could equally represent modernist artworks. Also specific color combinations, or painterly techniques make reappearances, such as painted comic-style bubbles with a prominent reflection, black circles splattered with small speckles of pastel-colored paint, emulating the color schemes of synthetic veneers used in Memphis furniture.

The style is promiscuous, an eclectic mix with radical shifts and illustrational ciphers. But there are other narratives, that are maybe less obvious and more metaphorical, but emphasize the scope of the artistic ambition on display. At a time when London was shaken by a wave of violent riots, the artist came across an irritating advert for bottled gravy showing the wolf and the three little pigs enjoying dinner together, in all the anthropomorphous retro-glory of their Disney-esque cartoon incarnations, all shiny and smiling, celebrating family values: „ah—togetherness!”. It brings up the question what or whom they might be eating?

While the fairy tale relates a story advocating the importance of constructing a safe house, or, in a wider sense, sustainable structures for life. There is a similarity to the motif of the math exams, the aspiration of „a better life through academic qualification”; as the artist put it, seemingly abstract geometry devoid of metaphorical content, yet still representing social hierarchy and symbolic order. This also enters any act of reading the fairy tale to children, inadvertently making parents think about their own lives, the sustainability of the structures created for themselves. Isn’t having dinner with the wolf like courting disaster? There is an analogy to the intuitive approach of the artist to his work, as a mix of planned steps and improvisations, allowed mutations of forms, one layer obscuring, destroying or enhancing the one applied before, like building blocks or bricks, yet accumulating meaning to the brink of exhaustion. Bare canvas signals transparency, there is no illusionism, every brush stroke and paint mark is there for a reason, carrying its very own meaning, as totemic as the little stick figure on top of the „Carlton” shelf.

This is not an exercise in deconstruction, in the lines of Derrida’s concept, implicitly questioning the validity of the underlying structures upon which other meanings lie. Thoroughly and proudly contaminated by history, and at a time where the art world appears to always be fixated on the next big thing, Barry Reigate goes back to the point, where painting is a practice of dealing with the world by dipping his tools into the primordial soup of raw paint, a chaotic situation, where everything is possible. The quest is to extract, with classical and clearly defined artistic means, as redundant as they may appear, pieces of work, that can formulate a drama for today That not only reflects basic artistic and painterly questions, but expand on them, right to the dinner table, and with the sincerity of the painter.

Andreas Schlaegel
September 2014

New paintings, works on paper and sculptures.

Reflex Gallery is excited to present London-born artist Barry Reigate’s first solo show in the BeNeLux this Autumn.

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Past shows (selection)

Miles Aldridge | Miles Aldridge | ART HISTORY

07-04-2018 till 22-05-2018

Keith Coventry | Keith Coventry | Junk & Pure Junk

24-02-2018 till 04-04-2018

New Beginnings

03-01-2018 till 17-02-2018

Roger Ballen | Roger Ballen – Ballenesque – a Retrospective

23-11-2017 till 30-12-2017

Unseen Photo Fair 2017

22-09-2017 till 24-09-2017

Chen Nong | Chen Nong | Silk Road

16-09-2017 till 11-11-2017

Joel Morrison | Joel Morrison | New Works

06-05-2017 till 15-08-2017

Iris Schomaker | IRIS SCHOMAKER | Come To The Edge

25-2-2017 till 26-4-2017

Unseen Photo Fair 2016

23-09-2016 till 25-09-2016

Marcus Harvey | Marcus Harvey | SHIPBUILDING | New Works

25-11-2016 till 07-01-2017

Sculpture Project Gelderlandplein | Permanently On View

Donald Baechler | Donald Baechler | New Works

16-09-2016 till 15-11-2016

Photo London 2016 Somerset House, Booth no. X2

18-05-2016 till 22-05-2016

Irina Ionesco | Irina Ionesco | Ma réalité rêvée

19-03-2016 till 10-05-2016

Unseen Photo Fair 2015

18-09-2015 till 20-09-2015

Andrew Moore | Andrew Moore | New Works from Dirt Meridian and Cuba

28-11-2015 till 20-2-2016

Todd Hido | Todd Hido|Selections From A Survey: ‘Khrystyna’s World’

12-09-2015 till 21-11-2015

Araki | Nobuyoshi Araki | Alluring Hell

06-06-2015 till 15-08-2015

Araki | Araki | August and Megumi Kagurazaka

20 December 2014 till 28 February 2015

Unseen Photofair 2014

18-09-2014 till 21-09-2014

Beauty of Darkness II

21 June 2014 till 04 August 2014

Miles Aldridge | One Black & White and Twenty Four Colour Photographs

8 March till 10 May 2014

Robert Yarber | Robert Yarber | Panic Pending

06-12-2013 till 25-01-2014

Artissima 2013

08-11-2013 till 10-11-2013

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | Wherever You Are Whatever You’re Doing This One’s For You

20-09-2013 till 24-11-2013

Unseen 2013

26-09-2013 till 29-09-2013

Something Like Summer

17-07-2013 till 13-09-2013

John Copeland | All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

25-05-2013 till 16-07-2013

Hisaji Hara | Hisaji Hara | A Photographic Portrayal of the Paintings of Balthus

23-03-2013 till 11-05-2013

Arco 2013

13-02-2013 till 17-02-2013

Chen Nong | Chen Nong | Climbing To Moon

29-09-2012 till 31-12-2012

Pulse Miami Contemporary Art Fair

06-12-2012 till 09-12-2012

Daido Moriyama | Daido Moriyama | Journey For Something

19-05-2012 till 28-07-2012

Marcus Harvey | Marcus Harvey | Glass Paintings

07-04-2012 till 16-05-2012

Arco Madrid 2012

15-02-2012 till 19-02-2012

Roger Ballen | Roger Ballen | Animal Abstraction

12-11-2011 till 10-12-2011

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | Rocky 6

09-07-2011 till 13-09-2011

Moby | ‘Destroyed’ – Booksigning and Exhibition

31-05-2011 till 16-06-2011

Araki | Nobuyoshi Araki | It Was Once a Paradise

01-06-2011 till 16-07-2011

| John Copeland | Times of Grace

27-11-2010 till 15-02-2011

Andrew Moore | Andrew Moore | Making History

10-04-2010 till 07-06-2010

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | I’ll Never Forget What I Can’t Remember

18-09-2010 till 09-11-2010

| Kristen as seen by Miles Aldridge and Chantal Joffe

14-03-2010 till 07-06-2010

Alla Esipovich | No Comment

15-01-2010 till 13-03-2010

Contemporary and Vintage Photography

26-09-2009 till 28-11-2009

David Lachapelle | David LaChapelle | The Rape of Africa

06-06-2009 till 31-07-2009

Bill Owens | Bill Owens | Riots & New Suburbia

28-02-2009 till 04-04-2009

Miles Aldridge | Miles Aldridge | Acid Candy

03-05-2008 till 05-07-2008