The Life of The Deceased: Ana Barriga @ Yusto/Giner Gallery
To categorize Ana Barriga’s playful practice as still life is a bit of an oxymoron, and happily, after a three year absence, the mischief is back at Marbella, Spain’s Yusto/Giner Gallery through November 2, 2020 in a show called The Life of the Deceased (La Vida del Difunto). features a new series of works that are portraying playful assemblages built from found objects.
A collector of everyday, often kitschy household items, she finds ways to stage them in unexpected assemblages, seeking flea-markets everywhere for the chance to choreograph the scenes, giving the objects an opportunity to playfully interact for our viewing pleasure. Everything from familiar porcelain figures, tools, scraps of wallpaper and all manner of household objects are isolated, then stripped of utilitarian purpose, and placed in new settings to cavort with one another and thus, on a canvas, given the chance to revel in humor. Multiplied, deconstructed, combined or cropped and portrayed closeup, they connect to viewers in fresh ways. In each unexpecting guise, they transcend their “first appearance,”asking us to consider the things around us with an open mind. Working with this folk-cultural archive, the Jerez-born artist builds a parallel reality filled with symbols and allegories, irony, and criticism.
“I consider myself a hunter, who selects the best objects that society has thrown out," Barriga explains. "I intervene on them in a playful way, with sarcasm and irony, and this allows me to remove seriousness from important themes such as death, sexuality, or religion. The way I manipulate objects, paint and cover my own designs, point to the way in which I conceive the creative act, and maybe even the life itself.”
Through the use of unexpected angles and light, as well as impactful close-up formatting, the objects are given new roles in which Barriga successfully plays with emotions, sexuality, tradition, spirituality, and pretty much everything that these figurines and ceramics could evoke. The idea of assembling surprising elements together is extended to her exuberant mixture of media and techniques which accents these new, energetic selves. With an arsenal of oils, enamels, markers, or spray paint, she creates vibrant visuals that shift volume and surface, manipulating them beyond physical appearance. By merely doodling additional characters or features around her colorful subjects, her aim is to show the reality in a different light and break the norms. The fun environments in her work are painted using a process that strongly relies on traditional painting while continuously experimenting, pushing, and pulling its fundamental values. Through laborious practice, Barriga often erases, modifies, repaints, and is said to be vandalizing her own work. Such an approach captures the intuitive, impulsive nature of her creative practice while resolute spraypaint marks and brush strokes reveal the admirable confidence needed for such determined action. —Sasha Bogojev