Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow produces both sculptural installations and painted studies that reference them. In her three-dimensional works the use of space – and our relationship to it – plays an important role. Barlow’s structures and forms, both rudimentary in construction and densely built, explore ideas of mass and volume. Whilst containing references to architecture, such as staircases, walls, platforms and barriers her work provokes recognition but also demands a reading in abstract form both through the deployment of colour and the materials utilised.

The materials she uses are mass-produced, cheap and commonplace – concrete, wood, cloth, plaster, paper, glue, rubber, hardboard and house paint. They question the nature and role of the sculptural object in contemporary culture, utilising an extensive yet fluid vocabulary and an huge enthusiasm for engaging with the basic physical materials of the world; creating new relationships she experiments with unexpected combinations of materials to form new objects and environments. We are encouraged, or indeed often forced, to see the everyday world with fresh eyes. Scale and materials are used to bring about a sense of place where pieces are to be walked around and through. Structures dwell in the space implying some kind of contingent purpose whilst by shifting scale and composition these objects play with the familiar whilst appearing temporary and incomplete.

Biography