Exhibition | Alvaro Barrington | Contemporary Art at Sadie Coles HQ | Davies Street | London | Art Week

Alvaro Barrington

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Saturday, 7 September 2019 to Saturday, 26 October 2019
Friday, 6 September 2019 -
5:00pm to 7:00pm

Alvaro Barrington 


Sadie Coles HQ 1 Davies Street

07 September – 26 October 2019

private view: 06 September, 5-7pm


Art is always who we are. It’s about community – sharing ideas through music, dance, painting, performances. I grew up first in the Caribbean and then in a Caribbean American community in Brooklyn, and have studied art for over twenty years, including at the Slade here in London. On my first visit to London, I stayed with my Jamaican aunt and extended family. My practice is always concerned with celebrating communities in the way that they celebrate themselves, and the diverse cultural languages in which we celebrate ourselves, so I am responsive to both carnival and the millions who celebrate it as I do, and also those of us who love to go to galleries and museums to see paintings. Working together with United Colours of Mas (UCOM) and Socaholic allowed us to create an experience that links communities and ideas. The concert is one kind of experience because it’s short, packed, and relatively small. Carnival is another: it’s massive, two days long, a lot of bodies and energy. You probably will lose your friends but find new friends. The show at Sadie Coles HQ is on for nearly two months. It is another way of viewing the paintings in relative quiet with your own thoughts. You can get deep into your thoughts with the paintings. All these experiences are valuable and touch on the different ways we process art and community. The paintings are the beginning of a four-show run about the life of Marcus Garvey and his relationships to London, the Caribbean and New York. It’s the first chapter, so it starts with birth, sex, nurturing and family (famalay) which is the first relationship we have in the world. One of the challenges is that galleries often have mostly white viewers and I’m talking about a black man and black relationships, and I think there are responsible ways to share these ideas and stories. So I knew I needed to go to black folks in a way that allows them to become part of what’s happening, to be in the conversation. And Caribbean folks celebrate carnival so it was my job to reach them in a space that is organic to the culture, which we are doing in a delicate collaborative manner. The people who have made the choices – like who performs, where we perform – are folks whose careers are centred around carnival. We’ve used our resources to make it happen. The overall experience, from the concert to carnival to the show, hopefully highlights the exchanges formed in a multicultural city like London while at the same time acknowledging the long history of those exchanges. At the same time as Garvey was looking at Africa while studying here in London, Gauguin was visiting Martinique, Picasso was looking at African sculptures, Matisse was visiting Harlem to listen to Jazz. Many of the elements of Africa can be found in Carnival, they were all finding new ideas, passing on old ideas through exchanges, through making, although in a specific cultural context. An underlying story in the paintings is Anansi the spider, mixed with Louise Bourgeois’s spider, who then becomes a stand-in for my mom (as the spider was for Bourgeois) and my mom’s relationship with my dad, giving birth to me, remarrying my stepdad ten years later, and then them having my brother.

Alvaro Barrington, 2019

Artist ( Description ): 

Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983, Caracas, Venezuela) studied at Hunter College in New York (2010-2013) and graduated with an MFA in painting from the Slade School of Art in 2017. Following his graduation, Barrington presented his first solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, curated by Klaus Biesenbach, for which his London studio was re-installed in its entirety at the institution (2017). Current and recent solo exhibitions include GARVEY: SEX LOVE NURTURING FAMALAY, Sadie Coles HQ, London and Tt X AB, Emalin, London (both 2019). He has been included in group exhibitions including Artists I steal from at Thaddeus Ropac, London, which he curated alongside Julia Peyton Jones, (2019); Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Run Part), 1: Loose Ends Don’t Tie, PS120, Berlin (2018); Widening the Gaze, Slade Research Centre, London (2018) and The Sleeping Procession, Cass Sculpture Foundation, West Sussex, England (2017).

+44 (0)20 7493 8611
Other Info: 

Artist's statement

Figuring it out is hard and I’m sorry 
It aint about you/
Burn Babylon/
Yah pussy ah da wettest/
Racism Shadism Classism colorist sexism Patriarch decentering whiteness
No Fucks Given/
The Marathon continues/
Art is about learning how to be, Painting is about what's in front of you, it's about learning to see/
Niggas die everyday in the hood B/
You're the most insecure person I know and it's disgusting/
We have to be gentle with each other’s hearts 
I Like America and America likes me 
For the CULTURE/
If you were them, You would be them/
“You’ve got to give them something special, you got to give them you, what you do, what you represent”
New women, old ways, Gotta Keep a Balance/
I look cooler than I am/
I don't want my work to be some fucking free zone associations/
Build the margins/
This nigga always skiing even in the summer/
Poverty Broke/
"I'm a Roc-A-Fella
What nigga for Roc-A-Fella shit I will rock a fella”/
"grey sheep”/
"You know you were my first time a new feel”/
“Lots of class but working class”/
Every year I grew up but never got older/
Fuck a lot/ mad asexual/
The margin are limitations of the imagination/
There are no margins/
Every master must empty his cup/
Take my dog to go see Santa/
Worker’s rights/
Be more grateful/
It’s ok to have the feelings that you have/it doesn’t mean your feelings are correct/
Don’t restate what someone has already said when you can say something new and more relevant/
Take something do something to it then do something to it/
Ok, Sorry/
It’s my flesh that holds on to facts, It’s my spirit that holds on to truth/
She riding dick on her tippy toes/
Trama looping/
Web of what I’m already doing/
Digital identity/
Only thing that was real/
Too much mindless conformity/
Live your truth
Black people who love black people
Who are you talking too
Sorry if I made you feel less than who you are/ a little insecure
a civilian 
Bummy Jack
Swear by the moment 
Centering identifies 
Consider the source 
Emotional thirst-trap
Long journey not a lot of time
Borderless experience
Ima shine Anti-social extrovert 
I’m from the far side of a small island 
Wanna feel the thrust wanna feel the texture 
Not really into small talk but always want a deep conversation
Biggest turn on real empathy not this pseudo cultural capitalist woke that people exercise now a days/ empathy 
that requires real listening and imagination around someone else’s lived experience.
Everything I experience is real

Venue ( Address ): 

1 Davies Street

London W1K 3DB

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