Journey Lines

Barry Squire exhibits works on paper in his first solo exhibition at Hangar Gallery.

01/09/16 - 30/09/16 Opening: Friday 2nd September 2016

Barry Squire’s first solo show in four years represents a full year’s work (though with a much longer incubation period). He has moved away from large oil paintings on to compositional exercises in collage; concentrating on the organic growth of geometric ideas and appropriated Old Knowledge.
Some works are challenging, or appear to be, like The Beheading of Dev/Juan and covert operations by Special Forces. Here (one of five variations), a single decapitated body lies beneath what could be a tower; what looks like a shrunken head rises heavenward, while a parachute gently delivers a complete body to earth. Disconcertingly, it evokes an image of the contemporary world, a pictorial ransom note from terrorists. One could read a lot into this, as in most of the works.
Squire composes his work mainly on paper, with acrylic paint and objects found in his previous studio; including antique reference sources, art reproductions (mainly black and white) and pages of text. He mentions “recycling” and has obviously had a lot of fun with this show; “There’s nothing abstract here, or pretty”.
Themes are loose, and some of the works are more engaging than others. Headless bodies are a recurring theme, and The pursuit of Darius by the headless army of Dev/Juan is possibly another parallel with the Middle East today. It represents the journey of Alexander the Great into Afghanistan, replenishing his army with conscripts from the conquered.
Religious fervor, tyrannical power and the overarching uncompromising truth plays on ideas before (and after?) The Age of Reason. A striking female deity floats in the bright blue sky, the picture counterbalanced with man and machine sitting heavily on the earth below.
In A Plague of Plagiarisms, the only remaining photograph of Squire’s sculptural installation at Whareora, Omega Patterns (apparently destroyed by The Council for not having the right paperwork), is book ended by an old painting of a satyr and nymphs, and a page of prose.
A mid-20th Century “Shell Map of the World” is presented upside down, suggesting this may have been how it was seen in earlier times. Faeries form a frame outside the frame of a print featuring female figures in the style of Rubens in Worlds in-between, folded in-between worlds.
There are archaic and seasonal pathways, oracular harmonics, the mysteries of Stonehenge and more; many with an underlying sense of humour, notably Canus Major and Minor (Good Dog). There’s also Squire’s ode to public transport and some of his family history.
Journey symbolism materializes in a totemic installation of trunks, topped with a head-like bowling ball bag.
Not just a journey through works on paper, a journey through the artist’s mind and thought processes.