Photographs by Lluís Barba / Sculpture by Herbert Mehler
Travelers in Time presents large scale photographs by Lluís Barba based on known masterworks by Bosh, Brueghel, Van Dyke, Raphael, Goya and Gauguin. Barba inhabits iconic paintings with present-day celebrities and influential people, as well as anonymous visitors. The new work is plagued by ordinary iconographies, such as McDonalds signs that share a new created virtual space with artworks by modern masters such as Magritte, DeKooning and Miro. The exhibition highlights the surrealist nature of Barba’s manufactured worlds by inviting the visitor to enter a new reality occupied by the three dimensional steel sculptures at once organic and geometric of German artist Herbert Mehler. Mehler’s sculptures come from nature – the plant world of fruits and seeds. Mehler transform the weight of metal into soft light shapes that at once are grounded yet seem capable of becoming airborne by the slightest breeze.
In his series Travelers in Time, contemporary Catalan artist Lluís Barba, employs digital technology to fuse traditional oil painting with digitally created imagery from the 21st century. His language of critical and social views merges with the works by the old masters, which he incorporates as the first layer in his own works. The subjects and themes discussed are universal, addressed by the artists from their own perspectives and from the social and popular concerns of their own times. Barba formulates a subjective revision of the art of the past and creates connections between historical characters and contemporary personalities. By bringing iconic masterpieces up to date with contemporary mores and figures Barba invites us to reconsider the timeless nature of the great paintings themselves, and to reflect on the timeless nature of that which we hold most deeply – our emotions and basic concerns of daily life. Like the paradoxes created by surr ealist masters, Barba conceives unusual compositions with stereotypes, such as military personnel with flower printed uniforms, with the goal of de-mystifying images associated with aggression. Barba inserts fictional heroes, which comment on the perpetuation of classical myths in our contemporary society. By focusing attention on such details as well as on the grand themes of the masters, the artist hopes to influence our perception of media, making us less inclined to manipulation.
Tourists are fundamental in Barba’s artwork as time travelers photographing museum artworks from inside instead of from the exterior. Inserted into the picture, they become a living part of the artwork, challenging the notions of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ time and space. Barba says: “I take out of context the elements of a reality to locate them in another one, I use irony and subliminal messages as a parody for our society. Formally, I use black and white as the past and color as the present, over photography paper or Diasec. For the installations I work with optical fiber, video projection, sculpture of photography…” “I address the reason for the conflicts more embedded in our society: alienation, isolation, globalization, ethnic merges, massive consumption and the lost of identity by the barcode in the fashion of a tattoo…” “I develop a revision of art partial and suggestive creating an interrelationship among individuals from the worlds of culture, such as artists, curators, cinema directors, clergy, politicians, characters from our social reality like indigents, emarginated peoples, immigrants and the ones generated by the star system, like Kate Moss, Madonna, Lady Gaga or Paris Hilton.”
Lluís Barba lives and works in Barcelona, Spain where he studied Art and Design. In 2011 Barba was featured artist at the Toronto Contact Photography Festival, where he presented the first works in his Travelers in Time series. Barba has exhibited in solo and group shows at major museums, galleries and art fairs worldwide since 1984. His works are in Museum collections in Spain, Japan, Germany, France, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Cuba and Egypt. Herbert Mehler was born in Steinau, Germany, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg. He has participated in international exhibitions at museums, galleries, and public venues in Germany, Canada and the US.
Curated by Barry Fellman and Mariavelia Savino
Center for Visual Communication
541 NW 27th Street
Miami, FL 33127