Per Barclay

New sculptures

OSL contemporary is proud to present an exhibition with new sculptures by Per Barclay. The works are created with a basis in stretcher bars, from which the canvases are stripped off and the wooden frame constructions used as the basis for new shapes. The pieces are made from iron and wood, and they are partly painted.

It has been more than 20 years since Per Barclay showed sculpture in a traditional sense. He has, over the past decades, been noted in Norway and Europe for his monumental oil-installations, and these demonstrate the same orientation towards spatial balance as his three-dimensional objects. However, there are distinct differences between the process behind the installation-pieces and the hands-on crafting of material that is revisited in this exhibition.

Per Barclay's practice cannot be seen independently from a lasting connection to an Italian art-scene marked theoretically and historically by the two central movements of arte povera and transavantgarde. He had his break-through with the exhibition ”Nuove trame dell’arte” (”New themes in Art”), curated by Achille Bonito Oliva in 1985 and central themes of the milieu have had enduring significance in Barclay's work: investigation into the dynamics of presentation; an experimental and tactile approach to production; the treatment of existing and living materials and attention to their qualities and layers of meaning. The kinship should nonetheless be understood in contextual terms, rather than as any absolute definition of Barclay's practice. His work reflects a heterogeneous background, and his cool, strictly controlled aesthetic universe is often referred to as particularly Nordic.

A balance of tensions, between structural precision and sensuous expressionism, runs through Barclay's production. His work relates to issues concerning the relationship between reality and abstraction, and the pieces seem to contemplate their own conditions as works of art. In the encounter between organic material, nature, and the will to aesthetic gestalt, neither synthesis, nor replication, nor representation is produced, but rather a new place with its own singular reality. In "The work of art as space -The symbolic realism of Per Barclay" (1998) Lars O. Ericsson writes: ”Barclay does not represent the space, he spatialises it: he is a demiurge and an ontogeneticist (a creator of realities), not a replicator."

The creation of such a place is contingent upon the use of force, or violence, upon the original material. The framed stretcher has, for centuries, functioned as a stage for the production of fictional, illusionary universes and representations. In Barclay's treatment, the object's innate characteristics and function are destroyed, as the material is reborn in a new context.

Per Barclay (b. 1955, Oslo) has exhibited widely both nationally and abroad. He has had recent solo-exhibitions at Reina Sofia, CAC Malaga, CCC Tours and at Fondazione Merz. He has been the featured exhibitor during “Festspillene” in Bergen and in Nord-Norge, and represented Norway at the Venice-biennale. Barclay’s work is part of key private ad public collections, including The National Museum, Henie Onstad Centre (HKO) and the Astrup Fearnley Museum, as well as museums in France, Italy and Spain. Future exhibitions include Le Radar in Bayeux, Rue Visconti in Paris, Giorgio Persano in Torino and MARCA in Catanzaro.