11 August – 10 September 2016


Known for scale and intricate detail, the work of Del Kathryn Barton melts mythology into spectacle. The artist describes the subjects of her major paintings as: "recognizable, enigmatic but empowered protagonists". Often they are women, the sort of women you would find in Norse sagas, grand Italian operas or Medieval tapestries. Yet there are also children, unicorns, skulls, tropical flowers and the artist’s own dog “Cherry Bomb” taking center stage. Uniting the vision is her intensely original “griffe”: the punctured holes of light and painted rivers of line that unite all the shards and secrets. Where some artists generate a body of work, Del Kathryn Barton propagates a universe, a cosmology with its own private symbols and visceral language. 

In her most ambitious commercial exhibit to date, angel dribble features sixty new works cascading over five different mediums and commands the whole space of the gallery. "I bled for this show and what distinguishes this work from anything else I have created in the last twenty years is the diversity of media. There are sculptures forged from sliced toys, found objects from my trove, expensive gem stones and some original elements cast in bronze. There are also thirty new photo-montage works (a first) that in some way lead up to my survey show for the NGV next year.”

Graphic, frenetic and dazzling, there are so many roads into this work.

But if pressed to describe her themes the artists says simply:

“If I could explain them, I wouldn’t be moved to make them. They are all of me…”

—Anna Johnson

Del Kathryn Barton has been exhibiting since 1995. In 2013, Barton was award­ed the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Archibald Prize for the second time with a portrait of actor Hugo Weaving. In 2012, a solo exhibition of Barton’s work was presented at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. She has also been included in notable group exhibitions, such as Dark Heart, 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2014), Express Yourself, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014), Australia: Contemporary Voices, The Fine Art Society, London. (2013), Louise Bourgeois and Australian Artists, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2012), Theatre of the World, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart (2012), Lightness and Gravity, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2012), Wilderness, Balnaves Contemporary Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2010), Feminism Never Happened, Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Brisbane (2010) and Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Queensland Art Gallery Triennale, Queensland (2009). In 2015, Barton was awarded the AFTRS Creative Fellowship, following on from her directorial debut with The Nightingale and the Rose (2015). This film was presented in Barton’s major solo exhibition Del Kathryn Barton: The Nightingale and the Rose with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (2016). Barton has been awarded Screen Australia’s Gender Matters funding, supporting the production of her upcoming film projects.

Barton’s work is represented in major museum collections in Australia, includ­ing the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide and the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania.

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