Barry Reigate's Equation

The London-based artist tells us about the concepts at play in his latest solo exhibition at Paradise Row

Untitled (Drawing 4), 2011, gouache and pencil on
Untitled (Drawing 4), 2011, gouache and pencil on graph paper © Barry Reigate and Paradise Row

The 40-year-old UK-based artist is currently exhibiting his latest solo show, entitled ‘Equation’, at London's Paradise Row. The new work, initially inspired by consumer culture and the overrun post-war Modern and contemporary art scene, is a comment on the current state of our visual culture. The exhibition features a series of mathematical/geometrical forms, repeated through various mediums including striking concrete sculptures.

Dazed Digital: Tell us more about the concept/inspiration behind your latest solo exhibition 'Equation'?
Barry Reigate: The basic core of the work comes from children's maths tests, taken from SATs papers. What I like about the source material is that it seems to have some kind of value in academic inspiration. The questions, equations, carried information that promised (in a way) a better life through academic qualification. The diagrams themselves within the questions were what interested me. I wanted to empty the symbolic content, by this I mean, the questions/words on volume etc.

I was attracted to the diagrams, geometric abstract illustration. Because the diagrams are geometric, to me they looked like pseudo modernist forms. After various attempts at re-drawing the diagrams I came to a point where, if I drew them on graph paper, they kind of worked.

DD: You have used repetition and elements of conceptual and minimal art in this collection of work to comment on society's visual over consumption as consumers and art viewer’s, was that something you initially thought about doing or did it develop as you began working on the collection?
Barry Reigate:
 Its not really a comment but something that came up and bugged me. In a way, subjectively, I am already involved with the source material, I have an 11 year old daughter who is partaking in this act of doing exams, in order to fit into some social structure, symbolic order.

It plays with exhaustion in regards to our visual culture. All the work plays on a structure or structures and systems, hence the repetition in the paintings. It also plays on modernist myths, emptying out the value to be left with something ornamental or decorative.

An important academic question gets turned into a decorative ornament; a coloured in drawing, building blocks, a decorative floor piece, paintings with aluminum and stylistic gestures, or something on the floor that looks like a game or a puzzle. All of this plays around with our aesthetic consumption and disposes it in a way of intellectual content, the value of the 'sum' (equation). All this happens within my practice as I go along. What really pulled me to follow this body of work is basic 'instinct' (not the film).

DD: The exhibition also features concrete sculptures, do you have a preferred medium to work in?
Barry Reigate: For me the object dictates what material it needs, in order to 'work'. I start from an original idea but things change, because some things work better than others. Originally, the 'puzzle' piece was to be coloured, but it also worked left raw, plain. As for the other piece ' pattern' it didn't work left unpainted.

DD: Which artist/s are you influenced by and why?
Barry Reigate: All I can say to this, is 'many'. Why many? Because it’s all out there, a different artist, influence, for every mood. Artists like Carl Andre and Sol Lewit have influenced the show (not necessarily me though).

DD: What other up and coming projects are you working on?
Barry Reigate: Maybe a show in Italy next year. I keep thinking 'birdhouses", wolves and minimalism. Don't ask, its that 'Basic Instinct" thing again. Something in Munich or Dusseldorf maybe? I would like to work on some outdoor sculpture, something to climb and play on. I'd also like to work on a film, maybe some abstract animation, something hallucinogenic and trippy. I'd also like to go for my childhood/ adolescent ambition and make the 'biggest painting in all the world'.

'Equation' by Barry Reigate, at Paradise Row, 74a Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB

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