EK Interview: Tim Barnard

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Tim Barnard‘s illustrations are a mash-up of so many enmeshed and overlapping subjects, and some of his works find their way into public/alternative spaces. Within his confines of a gray scale, he plays with dimension, perspective, and text.

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What has been a recent accomplishment?
Making it through one of the most difficult mural projects of my career. It was in Mexico and there were so many challenges. It was an accomplishment getting through it all in one piece. That being said, I am really proud of the show that I am involved with in Madrid at Swinton and Grant right now!

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I understand that as a kid your family moved around quite a bit and you drew in the car//on the road. Are cars still a place of artistic inspiration?
No, I hate cars unless I am driving. I am inspired by low-riders and customs, though. I am super down with any art that maximizes the innovation of a medium. I think its one of the highest forms of sculpture. It would be interesting if these vehicle customers started getting really experimental and gave up fossil fuel and concentrated on electrics!

I’m really fascinated by your very rich ‘about me.’ You mention that use of color is a kind of artistic baggage. What makes you say this? Does the lack of color make the execution of art more pragmatic and apathetic?
(Not sure if you can be pragmatic and apathetic its seems contradictory)
Color has baggage—it is evident. Color is communication with our past memories. Think of your favorite sweater ever! THAT color will register every time it reappears in your life. I find that with the negation of color, the artist and viewer may get closer to the truth of a painting or drawing even film. Whether it be abstract lines or a figurative head, the location, dissection, and possible appreciation of the subject may be enjoyed or analyzed with a slightly more objective perspective devoid of the personal color histories.

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You also claim, “Inner and collective psychological landscapes find neutral ground in the black and white treatment.” What is at risk when compromising the inner, or individual, psychological landscape with the collective? How does black and white treatment neutralize these two poles?
Every time I see that red and yellow, its Ron McDon and crew. It lights up all the joy as a boy—the pickle taste, the mustard and the ketchup. Later on, its this harsh guilt about the truth of what is really going on with fast food. Strip the color and you are left with thee hard black lines of the illustrator who designed these clowns, robbers, mayors, and fry guys. We able to look at the execution of the work. The intricate lines and the skills of the artists. Obviously there is still baggage but we are presented with closer access to art of the imagery and can decide to derive some poeticism from it.
I love how the common denominator of comics are black and white lines in the beginning before they are cloaked in color and text. Like all of our skeletons, we share this intrinsic understanding of work that is black and white. From the earliest etchings, to the wire frame CGI, there is a bond. That’s why I like to keep the actual subject as random as possible from my mind to hand in order to create collages based on pure instinct. It’s that same route in the video work that I am doing now. There is color for sure, but the denominator is the slow variable speeds that seem to achieve the same democratizing effect. Put simply, it is about stripping layers to arrive at a closer understanding of the execution of the work, an inspection of mark making. Or, in the case of video, it is motion, color, and form.

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With so much going on in your works, where do you begin? When//how do you decide what will colonize each space?
This completes my last thoughts about the mark making. It is an attempt to rein in these wild horses through the use of intuitive logics that are the exact reason for the production of the work. These logics are the product of time vs. self.

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I see that you’ve done a lot of work in public spaces. How do you feel differently about your art when it is in a set location as opposed to mobile?
Not so differently. I have always had a hard time documenting big walls and projects. A lot of the time, the surfaces are not that great and that is frustrating. Recently, I am gravitating towards the luxurious aspect of the art object; oil on panel and canvas as opposed to the slightly disposable nature of walls (crappy brick/ drywall etc.).
To be honest, I feel that this is one of the most detrimental aspects in modern art. There is so much inspirational graffiti and street art, but its availability proposes a threat to the value of art objects themselves. When all this art is free, where is the value and how is a client or the public supposed to respect the creator when they see so many free giveaway images—not to mention, the infinite feed of the internet constantly devaluing the production of work. I often think about this paradox when producing digital art. I mean, besides the hard drive or occasional c-print, WHERE or WHAT is it? It is a skilled movement of fingers on a track pad keyboard or WACOM. This is why the production of art objects is more important than ever.

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In an interview for Hot Art Wet City, you talked about a “pure connection between the mind and the hand.” Does your mind catch up to your vision or does the vision chase your mind? How do you organize what you envision before you begin a work?
I mentioned it a bit above, but it’s from the influence of the DADAists and surrealists with their connections to inner psychologies and the manifestations of this imagery for further analysis. This inspection really intrigues me because it reveals not only inner truths but larger understandings about this world and its psychology. Its signs and signifiers filter through all of us. I enjoy making quick work of processing this information by concentrating more on the medium and its accuracy than the meaning itself. The way, “organizing what you envision” really sums it up because that is the process there is no beginning. It is just the work. It’s like water, as Bruce Lee says, “let it flow like water.” Just let it happen and work it out. At the end, there is a crazy mirror of myself and the world.

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Could you tell us a bit more about your piece “Infinite Anarchy”? Why the title for this one? Are you titles autobiographical?

I have so many titles as I go through a piece. Some I remember, some I don’t, and I just make arbitrary stuff titles. As I explained before, is not necessarily arbitrary and is instead somehow revealing. Most of the time though, way after the piece is done, its title will come out of no where, just like everything else. The forward magic.

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?
Stoked on being back in mellow weather Vancouver, going to set up a routine for the first time in my life try a diet, regular cycling. Really into video work I have made about 70 or so musical pieces over the last 3 years. I am making videos for a lot of these musical pieces and that is exciting to me. There are a few commissions on the horizon but its day by day, I think I am going to do some oil painting right now. So peace!

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timbarnard.com