Phyllida Barlow


​A major new sculpture commission by the British artist Phyllida Barlow, as well as a large number of recent drawings.

This new commission at Studio Voltaire includes a series of works that directly respond to the gallery’s unique architecture. Dominating the space are two long structures that stretch from one end of the space to the other, mirroring the beamed ceiling. These barrier-like forms reference different structures we might encounter in everyday life, those that control or navigate us, along with other surrounding structures such as ramps, walls, barricades and sea groynes. Beside these interventions is a wall piece that has the quality of an enclosed balcony shrouded in blue tarpaulin; it is an object in a state of flux, it could be finished or still in the process. Another three smaller works based on security cameras hang from the beams, acting as observers of the strange environment.

Barlow’s recent work emerges from a 40-year practice in which she questions the nature and role of the sculptural object in contemporary culture. She makes use of an extensive, fluid vocabulary and has immense enthusiasm for engaging with the physical stuff of the world. Barlow makes her work from materials as varied as tarpaulin, wooden pallets, cement, polystyrene, card, plaster and chicken wire. After construction, many are painted with industrial or synthetic colours. Although abstract and often absurd, the sculptures have a strong sense of objectivity, they force us to consider relationships between the plastic, the body and narrative.

In partnership with Kunstverein Nürnberg. Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation and Valeria & Gregorio Napoleone.

  1. Phyllida Barlow (b. 1944, Newcastle upon Tyne) has been teaching, since the 1960’s and has proved an influential presence in a number of British art colleges. Her former students include Rachel Whiteread, Steven Pippin, Douglas Gordon, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bill Woodrow, Angela De la Cruz and Eva Rothschild. In recent years her work has achieved a new visibility with the publication of the monograph Objects For … And Other Things (Black Dog, 2005) and a number of solo exhibitions and commissions across the United Kingdom, including STINT, Mead Gallery, Warwick (2008); New Sculpture: In the Gallery and Grounds, New Art Centre, Roche Court, Sailisbury (2007); Scape, Spacex, Exeter (2005) and Peninsula, Baltic, Gateshead (2004). The artist has an ever increasing presence internationally with her inclusion in a number of group exhibitions including Kunstmuseum Basel and Bergen Kunsthall (both 2010 and curated by Silberkuppe, Berlin) and a forthcoming solo exhibition at Kunstverein Nürnberg (2011). Bluff coincides with the artist’s two-person show with Nairy Baghramain at The Serpentine Gallery (08 May – 13 June 2010).

  2. Phyllida Barlow, Bluff, 2010. Installation View, Studio Voltaire, London. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire, London. Credit Andy Keate.

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