Gary Barnett is an abstract painter residing in Kitchener, ON. This month Gary's best works are being featuring in his solo exhibition, 'One Concept' here at Twist Gallery. We caught up with Gary at the opening reception for his show to learn about where he gets his inspiration and the techniques he uses in his work.
How have your past experiences in music and graphic design led you to pursue painting?
Well music, I got involved with music when I was very young actually. I started taking piano lessons when I was about ten years old. A little bit beyond that I got into new age music, which really is a more natural, organic type of music, so I think that got me interested in other forms of art, which led me into graphic design. I took graphic design in college and in that program I studied life drawing, which really inspired me to go more in the direction of fine art rather than graphic design.
Explain the philosophy or concept behind the artistic style in your paintings.
The concept for my paintings when I first started painting, I used to draw landscapes, flowers, trees, I think I was inspired by nature like most artists are. But I soon realized I was just copying nature and I wasn’t really happy with the results I was getting, so I wanted to experiment with trying to re-create nature. I guess it comes from the concept that all nature, all life in the universe is just chemistry and energy, we’re basically just a mass of energy floating through time and space, that was kind of the initial concept behind my art. Then I started using paint, mixing it with different chemicals, applying forces to the paint rather than controlling the paint with a brush or a knife or other traditional tools. I started blowing the paint, using gravity to control the paint, vibration, and mixing different chemicals with the paint to see what kind of results I could get. Basically the idea is that I wanted to create a natural event on the canvas, actually re-create life on the canvas, or as close as I could get to that.
You have a unique method of painting that combines paint and natural forces. Can you explain this technique?
The technique is again based on the fact that all life is chemistry, and through experimenting with different chemicals , mixing different types of paint together, I use different forces to control the paint. I have a table that I work on that’s about eight feet long and about four feet wide with a glass top. So what I do is I lay a canvas on the table, soak it so it’s really flat, and then I start pouring the paint on the canvas and start using forced air to blow the paint, add different chemicals with the paint, I mix different types of paint together. One thing I’ve discovered is that at a molecular level, acrylic paint and different types of paint are very similar to organic life. So when you mix them together and apply energy to them you can get very interesting, natural results that appear, fine details and things that happen in nature that you see in plants or frost on a window for example, and you can get that by manipulating the different types of paints.
What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
I guess I want them to feel the same way that they would feel looking at a sunset or looking at an ocean or just looking at nature. I think a lot of paintings, they create the mood or they depict that scene but you don’t really feel that energy or feel that connection with nature and that’s what I’m trying to depict with my paintings, to re-create that emotion that you feel when you look at nature.
What sets your work apart from other abstract painters?
What would set me apart is the fact that all of my paintings are all based on this one central concept of energy, nature and life, and in effect trying to re-create nature on the canvas, and I think a lot of painters, they create a concept, each painting has its own message or it own concept, whereas for me all of my style of paintings relates to one central concept, which I think makes me different than most painters.
Where/how can people learn more about you and get in touch?
The best way to get in touch with me is through my website at www.garybarnett.ca. There’s links to all my social media on there and also my e-mail.
Gary's exhibit, 'One Concept' is open to the public until December 12th, check our Exhibitions section or go to www.garybarnett.ca for more info on the exhibit and Gary's work.