Phyllida Barlow

18 September 2018
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Alex Delfanne

British Museum

Phyllida Barlow
untitled: hoarding
Acrylic on watercolour paper
44.4 x 57.5 cm

Drawing has always been a central part of Phyllida Barlow’s practice. Throughout her career she has made often highly finished drawings to explore ideas for her sculptural work using acrylic since the 1980s. She produces these drawings before, during and after making the corresponding sculptures. Stages, fences, towers and other imposing three-dimensional structures often appear in her work. untitled: hoarding relates to a sculpture that formed part of Folly, Phyllida Barlow’s installation work made for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017. This drawing is the first work by Barlow to enter the British Museum’s collection, where it joins an important group of contemporary British sculptors’ drawings, including recently acquired works by Rachel Whiteread and Alison Wilding. Created from cast concrete, her sculptural work untitled: folly; holedhoarding stood in a narrow side area outside the British Pavilion. It evoked a billboard or screen with its two holes staring like a pair of eyes or binoculars. Beneath this menacing structure lay scattered debris of various objects, also cast from concrete, suggesting, perhaps, placards discarded after a demonstration. The related drawing untitled: hoarding gives emphasis to the massive billboard structure erected on two slender legs, with its circular open holes, both seeing and unseeing. Below, fiery swirls of red, orange yellow and black marks evoke an unquenchable conflagration.

Phyllida Barlow (b. 1944, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK) studied at Chelsea College of Art (1960–63) and the Slade School of Art (1963–66). After joining the staff in the late 1960s, Barlow taught at the Slade School of Art for more than forty years before retiring in 2009, and is now Emerita Professor of Fine Art. Phyllida Barlow has had an important influence on younger generations of artists through her work and long teaching career in London art schools. In 2011 Barlow became a Royal Academician and in 2015 she was made a CBE. Recent solo shows include Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2018): Turner Contemporary, Margate (2017); Kunsthalle Zürich (2016). Barlow represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale 2017. Recently she was included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt; and Firstsite, Colchester (all 2018).

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2017/18


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