I had the unexpected pleasure last night to visit the studio of Barry Motes.
Barry does very interesting surreal abstractions in oil. He creates ethereal backgrounds with great movement and places iconographic line drawings floating in space. His palate is almost neon in hue, bright pinks, blues and greens. The effect is a bit disturbing and alluring at the same time. I had a sense of Miro but with a bit more realism in his figures and more movement & color in his backgrounds.
I saw pieces from a previous show, Heaven & Hell, where devils and angels did battle on backgrounds that seemed other worldly (not like where the hobbits live, more like where the aliens mêlée). The juxtaposition of the human ideas of metaphysical creatures, who in our construct reside in the clouds or the fiery pits of the underworld, interacting in the strange environments of space create a dizzying complexity in his large scale paintings.
He carries a similar yet opposite theme in another body of work, whose title escapes me but has something to do with disease on the cellular level. He takes an image of say cancer cells magnified so a single cell is about the size of a softball. Again he uses intense and bright palate and then superimposes a black and white image of his parents. In this series, he has gone from the macro (grand space like backgrounds with universal and iconographic figures) to the micro (cellular backgrounds with very personal themes). He is moving from the grand talk to every one to the intimate talk to me…The people in all these images are known to Motes, yet they have the quality of universality in a personal way. His parents could have been my grandparents, his mother died of the cancer that Motes used in the background and, my father died of cancer… these concentrations are extremely personal to some if not most of us, and even more so for the artist himself.
I wasn’t supposed to see what he was working on currently, so I will only say that he has moved into the third dimension and is flirting with Magritte-esque qualities of space, light and themes.
It was a delight to stumble on such a great opportunity, another reason to be grateful.