Philip Barlow: Slowing a Split Second

Philip Barlow: Slowing a Split Second - Omenka Online

From 8 – 30 September 2021, Everard Read London will present Slowing a Split Second, an exhibition of new paintings by South African artist, Philip Barlow.

Following Barlow’s sold-out show at Everard Read London in 2018, for his new exhibition, the artist turns his attention to the streets and beaches of Cape Town in his ongoing quest to frame and capture in oil paint, the moment when light, form and colour collide; that elusive moment where time is suspended and distilled to convey a sense of grace and glory.

Barlow continues his exploration of bokeh* – the aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph – deftly harnessing the technique to conjure light-filled beach scenes or cityscapes that present an intriguing and ambiguous version of reality.

His landscapes are often figurative and depicting city life, evoking both a familiarity and strangeness. Using this blurred effect, Barlow leaves much to the imagination of the viewer, hinting at forms and shapes and using the play of light and shadow to explore the line between the physical and the spiritual. Barlow explains, “Although I work within a long tradition of landscape painting, my depiction of the ‘seen’ landscape is simply a vehicle through which I navigate the territory of another nature. A landscape less ordinary; where the line between the physical and the spiritual realm has seemingly been removed. However, these scenarios are not intended to be of a surreal nature. Hopefully, they will seem curiously familiar and convincingly real. The figures in the landscape serve as carriers and reflectors of the light that falls upon them. Bathed in the luminosity, it is my hope that they would become more beautiful. To me, light is the ultimate subject because it embodies the pinnacle of all reality.”

Phillip Barlow was born in 1968 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. At the beginning of his career, he specialised in painting large murals in South Africa and abroad. After refining his ability to translate scale and openness in his murals, he began to explore a unique contemporary style using oils on canvas. Barlow is fascinated by light and its effect on different surfaces, especially the abstraction of forms often generated by both natural and artificial lighting. Although he hints at forms and shapes in his work, not all the information is given, therefore allowing the viewer an avenue to create their own stories and meanings.

*From the Japanese for ‘blur’; refers to the quality of the out-of-focus parts of a photographic image; the effect one gets from a slightly unfocused background or from the softness of the lighting in the image.

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