Topping off a decade of successful international presentations with a three-month-long residency in London, Ana Barriga jumpstarts the New Year with a solo exhibition at London's Kristin Hjellegjerde on January 10, 2020. Her new work explores a fictional civilization called Maní, an idea conceived by the Spanish artist through a particular and playful creative process.

Barriga's method begins by foraging flea markets to collect toys and other decorative items she uses to cast a fictional narrative of her surreal vision. "Although the objects do not directly belong to London, the city makes them their own by filtering and classifying them into a diverse kind of ecosystem. These markets operate as a point of drainage for the city." Treasyres in hand, she starts playing with and arranging them in quirky interactions, completely ignoring perceived meaning, origin, and background.

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With whimsy and innocence, each character becomes involved in actions that imitate reality, a mirthful metaphor for familiar behaviors, beliefs, and cultural contradictions. The colorful and disparate subjects interact with the Maní in a variety of ways, subtly poking fun at the real-life conventions and foundations on which civilizations are built. By using friendly everyday objects as main characters, Barriga presents an accessible channel for reflection, inviting parallels between the depicted and experienced.

"Play or irony are ways of approaching reality in a different and unexpected way, of breaking common patterns," Barriga explains. "Unpredictable situations appeal to us because they do not conform to preset models." The physicality of such an approach results in exciting visuals filled with contrasts and contradictions, whether looking at the unexpected mix of techniques or different renderings of the image. By mixing oils, enamel paint, markers and spray paint, the artist transforms her mischievous concepts into the physical sphere, developing a fluid and spontaneous expression. Through bold gestures, rich textures and an accent on shiny surfaces, Barriga orchestrates a carnival of colors and visuals that stand up to the pitfalls while celebrating life. Sasha Bogojev