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Heather James Fine Art Opens Solo Exhibition by Kelly Barrie
Kelly Barrie, "Tree of Ténéré". Archival Light Jet Print Mounted on Aluminum, 72 x 82 in. Edition of 2 + 1AP, 2008. Photo: Courtesy Heather James Fine Art.

PALM DESERT, CA.- Heather James Fine Art presents the solo exhibition "Kelly Barrie: Trace Elements" and the group exhibition "A View to the Soul: Portraiture, Old and New". Both exhibitions run through May 30, 2010.

Kelly Barrie creates photographs that explore the imaginary site where past and present converge. Using found photographs, the artist reconstructs the image through a performative floor drawing using photo-luminescent pigment (glo-powder) and his feet, walking out the image on the floor via a series of actions such as toe drags, heel spins, snake walks and foot sweeps. The artist constructs a scaffolding system around the drawing and documents his traces by photographing the area in small sections over the course of several months. The studio acts as a darkroom as Barrie manipulates a row of vertical blinds that act as an aperture, controlling the amount of light entering the space, and lastly, reconstructing and manipulating the visual content by digital means to obtain the final photographic piece. The artist states “the work is also affected by other phenomena such as insects and pets leaving their tiny footprints in the night. These unseen collaborators lend credence to the ‘accident’, not only as content, but also as procedure that implies the artist does not have to be present for the work to continue.”

Kelly Barrie was born in London, England and lives and works in Los Angeles. He earned his MFA from the California Institute for the Arts in 1997. Recent exhibitions include Informal Histories, Angstrom Gallery, Los Angeles; Between the Blinds, UAG/Room Gallery, University of Irvine, CA; Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; 2008 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, CA; among others.

"A View to the Soul: Portraiture, Old and New" is an enticing display of material. Comprising of thirty-four works of art and spanning an ambitiously broad time-frame, the exhibition begins with a Pre-Colombian Olmec mask dating from 1,000 to 500 BC and flows through stylistic periods and artistic media to the contemporary output of sculptress Micaela Amato and photographer Lawrence Schiller.

Unifying these distinctive selections is an emotive content which imbues even the stylized anonymity of Winold Reiss’ 1929 Art Deco commission, An American Beauty, as well as the kitsch banality of the work of Pop artists Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselman, represented respectively by Liz II and Maquette for Bedroom Face with Tulip.

The gestural brushwork in Berthe Morisot’s 1871 Jeune femme speaks to her ardent study of seventeenth century Spanish painting, alongside teacher Edouard Manet. The result is a charming and intimate portrait of a young, dark haired woman with languid eyes and soulful expression.

Such introspection is also found in the 1979 silver gelatin print by Tseng Kwong Chi titled New York, New York, in which the twenty-nine year-old photographer places himself as the foreground to the towering Empire State Building, his eyes concealed behind sunglasses, temporarily shielding him from his approaching, poignant demise.

British artist John Stezaker uses photography as a vehicle for greater expression, exemplified by the two film star portraits from his so-called “Love” series included in the exhibition. In a masterful study in phenomenology, Stezaker succeeds in magnifying the emotions and expressions only implied in the original images through a series of subtle alterations, deletions and juxtapositions.

In 1978 American master Andrew Wyeth painted a series of portraits of his premier model, Helga, on her knees. Surf has the nude model submerged up to her knees while holding her hands clasped above her head. The translucence of the watercolor is graced by the suppleness of the pose. In contrast, Alberto Giacometti’s Tête de femme is a cutting use of ballpoint pens, an impulsive application of medium to support, yielding an aggressively executed and spontaneously conceived portrait of a woman.

Other artists’ work include that of Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Francisco Zuniga, Milton Avery, Alex Katz, Robert Graham, David Mach, Tip Toland, Lawrence Lee, Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline, Kim McCarty, Steven Assael, Yang Maoyuan, and Zhang Huan.

The 8, 500 square foot Heather James Fine Art is located at 45188 Portola Avenue in Palm Desert and features a wide array of art ranging from Impressionist and Modern to Post-War and Contemporary, American, Latin American, Old Master, Photography and Design.

Heather James Fine Art | Kelly Barrie | A View to the Soul |

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