Alvaro Barrington's multidisciplinary practice seeks to engage with the cultural exchanges and socio-political context of growing up between the Caribbean and Brooklyn in the 1980s and 90s.Read More
Born in Venezuela to a Grenadian mother and Haitian father, Barrington moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1990, where he was raised by his mother and a close network of relatives.
The materials, motifs, and techniques employed in Barrington's works have their roots in the varied life experiences and cultural engagements of his years growing up in Grenada.
He builds his canvases using burlap, a material used in Caribbean cacao production, while his employment of stitched yarn throughout his work references the craft traditions of the region, as seen in When I was just trying to feed my daughter / Coogi (2021) and The Musician's chains / Soul (2021), among others.
Socio-political and cultural phenomena of New York, including the Harlem Renaissance, hip-hop culture, and the city's downtown architecture, feature heavily in Barrington's work. His use of rich colour and the physicality of his technique are additionally gleaned from Abstract Expressionism, a movement that came to the fore in mid-century New York.
His 2021 solo exhibition at Thaddeaus Ropac embodied the breadth of his lived experience in a new series of painting and textile works, including works such as Em reclining sofa bed w/ Burberry pillow (2021) and Compass Pose [Deanna] (2021).
His mixed media on burlap work The Bather Rio/Ro/St (2021), featuring a silhouette of R&B singer Rihanna and titled after the modernist icons Mark Rothko ('Ro') and Clyfford Still ('St'), is a testament to Barrington's unique idiom.
Barrington has been praised for his unconventional approach to artist and gallery relations. Alongside representation from Brussels-based Mendes Wood DM and L.A.-based galleries KARMA and Blum & Poe, the artist has collaborative representation with four top London-based galleries including Thaddeaus Ropac, Emalin, Sadie Coles HQ, and Corvi-Mora.
In 2021 alone, the artist received five solo exhibitions, showing at The Tabernacle, London; Sadie Coles HQ, London; Emalin, London; Thaddeaus Ropac, Paris; and Nicola Vassell Gallery, New York.
In October 2021, Alvaro Barrington: Spider the Pig, Pig the Spider opened at South London Gallery, the artist's first solo exhibition in a U.K. institution.
In continuing his play on the connections between historic and contemporary cultural references, the exhibition featured a group of paintings emblazoned with printed and digitally rendered images from the children's cartoon Peppa Pig and George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945). A series of concrete-smeared Hermès blankets hung above, in reference to the cloud paintings of British landscape painters J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.
Alvaro Barrington's solo exhibitions include Alvaro Barrington: GARVEY 1: BIRTH – The Quiet Storm, Nicola Vassell, New York (2021); Wave Your Flags II, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2021); Wave Your Flags, Tabernacle, London (2021); My Words Will Live Forever – Fuck My Name, Emalin, London (2021); Garvey 2 – They eyes were watching God, Corvi-Mora, London (2020); Garvey: Sex Love Nurturing Famalay, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2019); A Taste of Chocolate, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2018); Alvaro Barrington, MoMA PS1, New York (2017).
Alvaro Barrington's group exhibitions include Mixing It Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London (2021); The Earth, That is Sufficient, Nicola Vassell, New York (2021); 30 Years in Paris, Thaddeaus Ropac, Paris (2020); A Focus on Painting, Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2020); after image, MAMOTH, London (2020); Landscapes of the South, Mendes Wood DM, New York (2020); No horizon, no edge to liquid, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2020); Drawing 2020, Gladstone, New York (2020); Tt x AB: Tall Boys & A Double Shot Espresso, Emalin, London (2019); Artists I Steal From, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2019); Natura Naturans, Mendes Wood DM, New York (2018); Hog's Curve, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, (2018); and Woven, Rental Gallery, East Hampton (2017), among others.
Annabel Downes | Ocula | 2021