Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent works by Robert Barry. Exhibiting since the early 1960's, Barry maintains a Minimalist aesthetic while working within a Conceptual framework. In this exhibition of four recent works, Barry expands his series of Mirrorpieces, which consist of mirror and glass panels inscribed with block-letter words. The series blurs the boundaries between art and object, writer and artist, and the ways in which one word can be interpreted.
The Mirrorpieces series address a major theme in Barry's work - the relationship between meaning and context. One work, Light and Dark (2010), is comprised of two mirror and glass panels that have been inscribed with words such as "INTRINSIC," "CAREFUL," "EXPLAIN," and "APART." All of the words are the same size and color, and Barry's choice of font and composition suggests equality between them. The diptych format implies a connection between the words on each panel, implying juxtaposition, similarity, or poetic expression. However, the words on each side of the diptych do not follow a pattern of synonyms or antonyms nor is there a constructed sentence. As the formal qualities of the work do not immediately point to a specific meaning, the observer must look within him or herself.
For Barry, the meaning of the Mirrorpieces is dependent upon the viewer's presence. According to the artist:
Context is very important, the viewer becomes part of the context as she or he is engaged.Once I got into the more conceptual aspect, I was engaged more with the viewer as a participant, not just in a physical or formal way, but also in a more intellectual and personal way.
While the minimal shapes of the mirror and glass panels suggest purity, Barry's use of reflective surfaces creates continuously changing "canvases" around the words. The reflections in each Mirrorpiece shift from moment to moment, dependent upon the viewers and objects in the background. Barry attempts to create a connection between the work and the viewer: the background reflections and the interpretations of the words on the panels are formed by the viewer's experience.
Born in 1936, Robert Barry currently lives and works in New Jersey. Since his first solo exhibition in 1964, Barry's work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. In 1969, he had his first show in Europe with Gian Enzo Sperone at Galleria Sperone in Turin; since then, Barry has had five exhibitions with Sperone in Italy. Barry has had numerous solo shows including a traveling exhibition in 2003, Some places to which we can come: Robert Barry, Works 1963 to 1975, which traveled to the Kunsthalle N'rnberg in Germany and the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Switzerland. Barry's work is included in numerous museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre George Pompidou in Paris, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, and the Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna.