"The Grass is Blue," Shrine

October 31 - December 5, 2020


I’m perfectly fine, and I don’t miss you… The sky is green, and the grass is blue”, sings Dolly Parton on her 1999 track, The Grass is Blue. This declaration of strength and independence also concedes that the world can quickly turn upside down, leaving you completely off-center and adrift. We can adapt and find strength moving forward in this new realm or remain fixed and tied to old ways and habits. For Hayley Barker (b. 1973), there is only one choice– you jump full-force, both physically and metaphorically, into whatever unexpected challenges and changes the universe presents you with.

Landscapes and intimate, self-reflective portraiture are at the core of Hayley Barker’s newest body of work. Outdoor scenes and figurative subjects are expressively rendered with oil paint on linen, and draw influence from emotional and spiritual experiences, nature, dreams and art historical precedents. The meditative act of painting allows Barker the ability to reconcile remembered dreamscapes and imagery from favorite paintings with her own direct perceptions of reality, creating surreal and mythical spaces that still feel familiar and inviting. Bright, occasionally-psychedelic, canvases feel exuberant and obsessive at times, but possess equal measures of restraint and calculation, helping to document an artist’s profound inner world and desire to examine subjects deeply.

While quietly paying homage to artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Odilon Redon, and Edvard Munch, and their rich places in art history, Hayley Barker has constructed a highly-distinct, contemporary visual style and painterly touch that is all her own. The title of her exhibition, The Grass is Blue, is a nod to another legend and functions as an abstract allusion to the strange new world we currently exist in. Her large-scale painting, Front Yard at Dusk with Visitor, documents a lush front yard garden path leading to a socially-distanced, masked visitor walking her dog. This quintessential image of pandemic-life is full of hope, awe for the natural world and highlights the importance of maintaining connections with loved ones even under the most trying of times.

Hayley Barker lives and works in Los Angeles, California and has recently had solo shows at Bozo Mag in LA. The Grass is Blue is her first solo exhibition in NYC and first physical presentation at SHRINE. In 2017, Barker published a book called Vintage Self Help, a compilation of essays focusing on trauma, healing, art, and shamanism. Barker received a Master of Fine Art from the University of Iowa (2001) and her Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Oregon (1996).

PICTURED: All the Roses, 2020, oil on linen, 43 x 31 in