Now that I live in San Francisco, the idea is to go to as many shows as possible and continue writing reviews, and filming new videos for the shows that are most inspiring. I don’t often get to see the shows on the reception night, but I do manage to see them before they are taken down. Shawn Barber’s latest solo show, “Youth of Today” at Fecal Face Dot Gallery is a good example, as I saw this show during the last week it was up. Shawn is no longer located in San Francisco, and this is his latest solo show in SF since he moved to Los Angeles. This new exhibition featured 4 large scale painting that ran in a series, and 7 smaller paintings on the opposite wall. The work in this show continues Shawn’s “Doll Series”, which are all inspired by his concern of a world becoming more enthralled with pop culture. Click the more link for a video, and the full review.
The gallery is just big enough to hold the 11 painting comfortably, and allow the viewer to focus in on each one. The one thing that I was having a hard time with was the lighting, since the sun was pouring in quite heavy into the gallery. This isn’t usually a problem but since the paintings were all oil, the glare on some of them took you out of mindset to get lost in the painting. However, sitting down for a minute to wait for the sun to mellow out was a good idea. Seeing the show in the reception night alleviates the issues with the sun, but I’m sure it adds issues with space. I would rather have the gallery to myself to not only take in the works, but to photograph and film them.
The most striking aspect of these works in Shawn’s application of paint. The dripping, splattery, almost palette knife feel of some of the marks gave your eye enough information to happily dance around the surface of the painting for days. In the larger works, reading left to right, you see a dolls head that in 3 extra steps turns into a skull. These works were not only massive in size, and very impressive to look at in one take, but they held the most exciting brush marks and at some times even became sculptural. It was these works that I spent the most time with, not only because the sheer size draws you in, but because I am a huge fan of energetic styles of painting and these shows the best of what Shawn is capable of and more.
The smaller paintings were not to be missed, and while they were 1/5 of the size of the larger ones, they were just as exciting. I especially like “Jezebel” (above), with the red skin tone that was so intense it seemed electric, and “Plastered” (below) which had the most amazing textures and for me really showed the idea that Shawn wanted with “Youth of Today” in that “the “individual” personalities are saturated with a common ground- repetitive sadness fueled by the projected facade of synthetic surreality.” The idea of decay, neglect, and an overall foreboding feel permeated through these works. I couldn’t help but find each and every one of them exquisite. I hope it is not too long until Shawn shows in San Francisco again.