Per Barclay

18 september, 2003 - 16 february, 2004 /
Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Exhibition view. Per Barclay, 2003
Exhibition view. Per Barclay, 2003

In Per Barclay’s (Oslo, 1955) work the concepts of tension and in some cases drama coexist, in which the artist incorporates influences of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. After studying art history in Bergen in 1979 Barclay leaves Norway to find new artistic references in Italy where Arte Povera still dominates the art scene.

In Florence he studies design and photography, and later moves to the Academy of Bologna in 1981 and two years later to the Academy of Rome. At this time Barclay works with photography and experiments with small installations.

After passing through Naples he moves to Turin, where comes into direct contact with artists of Arte Povera. From this point, the artist uses oil and water as artistic elements and steel and glass as structural materials for his pieces. In 1994 he moves to Paris where he lives and develop his projects.

Barclay likes to play with time and space. Like his photographs, his sculptures and installations lack connotations that help recognise the place or time. For the artist time is unreal and space is timeless. On many occasions he attempts to transform photographic experiences into image-object.

Human presence and absence is the dominant theme in this artist’s work. Many of his pieces are a reflection on human condition which tends to violence and which inevitably competes with peers. In them he tries to exorcise danger, either isolating it in aseptic places or butchering it into its primary elements.

The installation exhibited at the Palacio de Cristal is a piece created specifically for this place. Barclay continues the line of work based on liquid installations in rooms, or "places", as the artist himself describes all his pieces.

Building materials are the same as those from the Palacio: iron and glass. The artist adds to these elements a red liquid, which flows through containers and drips from above to fall and explode within cages. From there, through a circuit, the tops of the tables slowly fill and climb to start all over again. The mixture of these materials with the red liquid combines technology with the organic.

The red drops represent sound in the exhibition, a soft tinkling which becomes almost violent, until it goes quiet again when the table surfaces becomes a big, red monochrome. With this work Barclay refers to the moral commitment of the artist, it hypnotises the spectator and locks him in a beating heart, where calm momentarily intertwines with anxiety.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Giulietta Speranza