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Interconnected histories and miscellaneous cultural productions, throbbing energies and primordial impulses; a globalized world where diversities combine into inedited and metamorphic appearances. From the very center of the melting pot, Alvaro Barrington focuses on those aspects that define his cultural heritage, giving voice to the dialogues that his cultural belonging enacts with the variety of settings which the artist is subject to. 

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Born in Caracas, Venezuela, raised between Grenada and New York, and currently based in London, Alvaro Barrington has recently received the art world’s attention thanks to his powerful and energetic multimedia works, focusing his attention on the dialogues that intertwine between different cultures which often lead to the birth of interconnected histories of cultural production. Besides all of the techincal and procedural aspects of Barrington’s process, what stands out as a primary influence to his painterly research, is the element of the “Carnival”, which the artist explains to be an event to which the Caribbean comunity gives unparalleled importance. In a beautiful interview for his show at Emalin Gallery (UK), Barrington explains why and how this moment of collectivity and energy is so important to his community: 

“I think Carnival, the way we dance, the energy that’s there, how West Indians move. I remember one of my brothers, he’s a homie. He’d just came up from Trinidad, but just how he spoke and how he moved... When he points two fingers and he’s talking to you, it feels like a dance more than just an action, I guess".


Alvaro Barrington, Garvey: Sex Love Nurturing Famalay, 2019. Courtesy Sadey Coles, installation view.


In Alvaro Barrington’s paintings, a world made of colourful and evocative forms seduces the viewer and gives the impression of an ongoing rythm; a dance in which conceptualized costumes and melodies constantly recall the act of the Carnival, attracting the observer and allowing him to let go to the rythm and flow. The fabrics and the patterns that are combined and stretched together, create a reminiscence of a primitive and lost naturalistic world, which has a strong connection with Barrington’s Caribbean upbringing. Saturated hues build resemblances of fruits, roots and other essential and “nutritive” elements, towards which the visitor points his attention. Both colour and form allow these elements to detatch from their common significance and create a strong feeling of musicality and movement, bringing foreign customs and traditions in close contact with the growing and eclectic movement of the Caribbean Carnival. 


Alvaro Barrington, 1373-1877 (2018). Oil on burlap paper in custom frame.


In our contemporary world, where globalization and cultural mixtures create atypical combinations of powerful dialectic significance, it is important to reasearch and spend some time to unveil the immense variety of combined aesthetics that can nowadays be found. When put in a diverging context, distant and different customs, freely combine into something inedited and extremely suggestive, both giving-in to one another a part of their own and losing a piece of their provenance, in order to merge into images of unprecedented inventive. Painters like Alvaro Barrington give the chance to us observers, to forget the greyness and stillness of our urban life and engage into an adventure made of colourful appearances and energetic rythmic melodies; allowing us to enter as distant relatives into the beautiful world of the Caribbean Carnival. 


Alvaro Barrington, Installation view, courtesy of MoMa PS1, ph. Pablo Enriquez.


Alvaro Barrington, 1958-1978 (2018). Oil on burlap paper in custom frame.


Cover image: Alvaro Barrington, Hibiscus Fruit-Red Yellow (two males uprising) with Anansi Spider (2019). Mixed media on burlap.

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

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