"...'Looking back at the changes her art has undergone, Barker reflects that, now, “enjoying beauty and flowers seems more radical to me.' "
"In "Eartha" at Adams and Ollman seven artists offer interpretations of the natural world and their place within it..."
November, 30, 2020
"When Hayley Barker speaks of the painters who influence her own work, she names Hans Grundig, Jean-Édouard Vuillard, Charles Burchfield, Paul Gaugin. Men, all of them, because in art history as written until recently, almost every famous painter until the end of the 20th century is male.
"In her own work, Barker emulates the profusion and surplus of these male painters who chose nature as their primary subject. Barker has a way, like they did, of filling up a canvas with so much beauty that it makes your chest hurt from the fullness of it. (Beauty can stuff you.) But Barker aims to be different as well. “I want to make the painting I haven’t seen,” she says.
"Traditional Western landscapes, Barker says, are linked to colonialism, the bourgeois, a luxury sensibility that sees nature as something that can, and should be, conquered. Much like an Instagram selfie, traditional landscape painting sees nature as a backdrop for human greatness...."
“A lot of people have been turning to art, needing space to process,” says the artist Edgar Fabián Frías, who, along with Hayley Barker, Julie Weitz, and Patrisse Cullors, has been discussing their art as spiritual practice.
"LOS ANGELES — In a year of massive layoffs, outcries against systemic racism, and our first official global pandemic, it is little wonder that some may be looking beyond the material world and seeking spiritual sustenance, even in the usually secular art world. Increasing global economic and political uncertainty — and not to mention the ongoing reality of climate change, which remains impervious to human calamity — has given new meaning and resonance to one of fire-and-brimstone preachers’ favorite topics: the apocalypse. If indeed the end is not near, it certainly seems near..."
May 6, 2020
"... Barker expressed, what matters most is the fluidity of time for women, made more apparent when set against nature, as the beautiful must also contain complicated things, violence and disorder, so in this way: it is happening, has happened, will happen at once."
Guests Akina Cox and Hayley Barker talk to us about spirituality, dreams, religious backgrounds, cults, trauma, PTSD, the Symbolists, vintage self help, flashy shittiness, writing scarves, interior life, being old enough not to give a f**k, and much much more!
Akina Cox is an artist and writer who was raised in the unification church. Akina lives and works in Los Angeles and her show Apokalypsis runs from March 15 thru May 3rd at BozoMag in the Highland Park neighborhood here in LA.
Hayley Barker is a painter originally from Oregon and she’s been in LA for 5 years. Hayley has a show coming up at Shrine in New York and she shows with BozoMag here in Los Angeles.
With her new show, Hayley Barker talks art, epiphany and flowers
Hayley Barker’s Late Bloomer is an exhibition of eight oil-on-linen paintings that register as epiphanies — exultations in color and mark-making, states of existence. Barker’s pictures radiate, dissolving boundaries between figure and landscape. On first seeing this work, fluidity comes to mind — and a kind of occult wonderment at how the visual world might mirror our metaphysical states, and how to show that in paint. It’s a dizzying, sublime viewing experience. Her exhibition closes Sunday, December 8 at Bozo Mag, with the special “roving flat file” popup Barker Hangrrr, a showing of over 100 artists curated by Barker. We spoke with the artist about her approaches and her story.
L.A. WEEKLY: The painter Anya Roberts-Toney told me of a mystical experience you had which had a transformative effect on your work.
Hayley Barker: It was in Bosnia; I haven’t talked about this for a while.
Did it influence your recent work?
It’s kind of always there now. It’s hard to tell this story without talking about the context. I had ovarian cancer when I was around 35. Part of surviving and healing was to return to my spiritual roots. I was raised Catholic and have always wanted to visit Bosnia Herzegovina to see Medjugorje, a village in the mountains where shepherd kids would see the Virgin Mary back in the ’80s.
It seemed important to my healing process, although I couldn’t put a finger on why. But I went there to do drawings on the site where she’d appeared. Some American pilgrims said, “Go up on the hill at just the right moment, you’ll see the sun spin.” They say everybody who goes there at something like 5:28 p.m. sees this.
One night, I went and had this totally incredible, visual experience. It was profound. I also felt a kind of expansion, a pulsing in parts of my body. I’ve always been interested in the sun, this unifying force that’s also a shattering thing.
Taking that journey, you may not know why but it’s our job to go — not knowing the outcomes. It’s understanding the interior landscape as much as the exterior. Looking at your show, I get this clear sense that it’s the artist’s job to navigate those spaces.
You can’t help but find something extraordinary if you give yourself the space and time, the curiosity to go there without pinning it down or seeking something specific. Even if it’s just finding rest when you don’t expect to find rest. As an artist that paints and draws expressively, that’s always a super rich area for experiential information.
You have to give yourself over to that expression. Do you feel a continuity with historical art works or artists?
I wasn’t trained as a painter, so I come to painting in ways that have more to do with working with what you’ve got. I enjoy playing with what a self-portrait can be, playing with art-historical genres or forms, imagining how my own experience could fit into those worlds.
So many of the Romantic takes on women are flowery and, as much as I resist being tied to the feminine, I also imagine a possible future in which my day-to-day could be flowery. I mean, what would it be like to be relaxed, in a bed of flowers? Some of the paintings ask: Could it be this way, or could it be that way?
On your terms.
Yeah, and other paintings have more to do with an interior landscape or dreamscape. I’d like to think those worlds could mash up.
Do you remember your dreams?
I do. There are several landscapes that I go back to in my dreams. One of them is this field with crazy greenery, flowers, plants and stuff. There are also dead, fossilized animals in the field, as well as living ones. It’s just teeming. There are stones, amulets, ritual objects and if you dig into the soil you’ll find all these things.
I had one last night. I was digging around in some soil and it was like — OK, here are all the stones and amulets.
I see that magic, visionary stuff in your paintings. I was blown away by that Guston show at Hauser & Wirth and I know you were too. One of the things I was so floored by was the idea of ancient forms and objects recontextualized in today’s world. It’s a notion that things of today will eventually become stone. Now I’m seeing his forms as representing the eternal. I relate this to your dream with all the fossilized forms commingling with living ones.
That’s what time is, right? We’re all in this place that’s ancient, right now. We’re living on layers upon layers of things. And layers and layers of times to come are pressing upon us. The earth is alive and everything above is alive. People are fluid in that way. The older I get, the more I feel it.
Age is profound to me — you wake up the same person every day. In the little bit of study of I’ve done on consciousness, it’s wild to me that we keep being alive in the same head, the same body. It’s so strange. It’s beautiful.
It is. And totally weird. Julian Jaynes wrote that consciousness is just as likely to be sitting on the curb on the other side of the street, as it is to be, like, inside your skull. That makes me think, while what we share is culturally gleaned, what else do we share that’s not obvious?
Even the fact of matter: Our biological matter is so close to plants and soil. I think about elements as being always changing, full of life. It’s inevitable that time is one of those elements as well.
What inspired you to create Barker Hangrrr?
I was drawn to that project, thinking there needs to be a way to show the work of people I care about and want to celebrate, whether they’re here or not. I want to connect people and flatten out social stratification — as much as one white lady can. I got help from a lot of people.
And it’s all displayed on the floor, right? Changing the format.
Yeah, flat. Just bringing it to the ground, to the earth.
It changes how you perceive the work, too.
Totally. I wanted it to be handled, because I feel like drawing is intimate. That’s where I want it to be. I want to experience it intimately.
Summer Formal, with Hayley Barker, Jason David, and Nancy Ford is a show that coalesces around texture, mark making and colors, inadvertently expressing a casual optimism that complements the season. Hayley Barker’s two paintings, Bathers 1 and Bathers 2 are virtuoso examples of wildly active but ultimately controlled mark making. Almost completely abstract, her paintings hover between constructed and deconstructed images. They suggest idyll landscapes, but leave one consumed by the highly energetic force field that almost overwhelms them. Eventually your eyes settle into the frenetic network of lines, shapes and colors to find the figures within the overgrowth. Like a psychedelic vision, the paintings dissolve boundaries of self and surroundings, yet Barker manages to create a unified experience. She demonstrates a masterful control over her work, harnessing the variety of her painting strokes and an ambitious color palette. Barker, an artist to watch, sets a high mark with these two exciting paintings.
Los Angeles is one big pop-up. There’s Kim K. West’s beauty shop at Westfield Century City, Dean Baldwin’s restaurant One Top, and even a gallery or two—one of which, Gas, is housed in a truck. The space’s current exhibition examines another Angeleno preoccupation, self-care, by calling on nine artists to reassess a claim once made by Audre Lorde. Is self-care a radical, political act?
Not quite, says Amanda Vincelli, whose REGIMEN, 2015–17, documents the drug routines of adult women chained to big pharma for their medical needs. Nor for Darya Diamond, whose emergency call buttons challenge the distinction between the luxury and the urgency of wellness. Jules Gimbrone's and Young Joon Kwak’s sculptures surveil bodies through cosmetic residues, while Ian James’s image of a woman wearing a gold face mask attests to the blind faith put into beauty rituals. Is this a response to national anxiety? Post-election news headlines suggest yes: An article in the Washington Post offered “Self-care tips for those who are terrified of Trump’s presidency.”
Though it may provide short-term relief, self-care is not a catch-all solution. Maybe we need non-quantifiable alternatives to the data-driven Fitbits and health apps that appear to offer immediate improvements; perhaps healing soundscapes like C. Lavender’s Sagittal Plane Interference, 2018, afford greater solace. Take a deep breath and— Oh heal me pls! cries Hayley Barker’s drawing, in a spectrum of pinks and yellows. It’s a hypochondriac’s plea to which the disparate works respond with an equally untenable suggestion: Better to log off, lie low, and steer clear of public panic. The collective ailment, so it seems, is the relentless allure of short-lived trends.
Contributed by Sharon Butler
"Poet and art critic Barry Schwabsky curated a group show, on view at Anita Rogers through June 2, in the spirit of a Mina Loy essay in The Blind Man, a 1917 Dada journal of essays and poetry produced by Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood and Henri-Pierre Roché. In the short piece Schwabsky references, Loy writes that art is akin to “The Divine Joke,” something that the public could easily understand and enjoy. I think her implication was that certain art movements, such as Futurism, were too dense and rarefied to capture the public’s imagination, but that overt humor and irreverence could better entice ordinary people to engage with the visual presentation. In Schwabsky’s group show, titled “The Divine Joke,” he attempts to gather work that pulls off the same trick".... READ MORE on the blog.
--David Pagel, LA Times
All are XXL
beddrawing by Hayley Barker
essay by Blair Saxon-Hill
designed by Antonia Pinter
hand-dyed & printed by Alex Seastrom in LA
The essay on the back of the shirt reads:
HAYLEY BARKER: 13 Paintings and some beddrawings
Barker’s energetic works maintain a central composition; a reflection—a woman—she gazes outward or in towards us from the page. A guide. It reads as having been divined. And yet, we are at once reminded of Barker’s hand in its giddy quality, witnessing her play against the tooth of the paper; like a cat batting a mouse. Lines curve inward, moving from petal to spiral. They quiver, dot, dash, push and “x” before starring here and later on panel. Contorting her hand, Barker annunciates pleasure. Her allover marks are often gentle—even when her figure’s eyes and mouth are possessed with an inaudible answer and outrage. I ask her, “Where are they angry?” She says, “In the mouths.”
(c) 2018 Blair Saxon-Hill