The works in Lisl Barry’s solo exhibition, ‘The Nature of Patterning’, are multifaceted, embodying the artists’ years of observation and gaining a deeper understanding of the equilibrium achieved in the natural world.
Whether naturally occurring, human-made or behavioural, patterns are ever-present in our lives. It is said that our subconscious unravelling of the patterns around us gives us a sense of harmony and a place in the world. Through multiple layering of medium (linocut printing, oil paint, pencil and sometimes gold leaf application) Lisl creates playful patterning and striking compositions. Infused with rich colour and energetic lines and shapes, these works display a fresh vibrancy, as well as a feeling of quiet. There is a strong sense of movement in the patterning, an intriguing universe that a viewer feels compelled to engage in.
“I wanted to explore our ability as humans to find joy, even in these most confusing of times, and to create a sense of freedom and even in some, a sense of humour.”
To achieve a ‘perfect imperfection’ outcome, Lisl integrated linocut printing into her oil paintings. Since printing linocut shapes on a textured canvas surface creates varied impressions, she leaves the creative process to chance, and moves away from the traditional printmaking pursuit of a perfectly repeat-printed linocut. Her process stands as an ironic response to an increasingly controlled – and digitally orientated – world.
“For years I have admired the Bogolan hand-block printed fabric of Mali. ‘Bogolan’ means ‘originating or arising from the earth’. None of the hand-block patterning is perfectly repeated or even 100% aligned. It becomes instead the artist’s indelible mark on that rough mud cloth. To my mind, it gives each piece of fabric an authentic element because it tells a human story in a way that mechanically produced textiles do not.
At the same time, with a photographer’s eye, I have been drawn to patterns created in nature: geological formations, plants, and the way creatures move and survive in their environment. It’s ever-changing yet retains a natural harmony, like the colours and shapes that are perfectly mirrored in water’s reﬂection, which shift and become quite psychedelic merely through a subtle change in air movement. The celestial scale of the starkness of patterning dominating a Karoo night sky can evoke an intensity of emotion. One’s perspective on life and humanity can alter dramatically when one is out in nature, just observing, quietly. There’s a kind of magic, everywhere you look.”
Lisl has exhibited extensively at a number of established galleries and exhibitions. Her work is held in private collections locally and globally.
Initially from Cape Town, Lisl was a Graphic Design Art Graduate (1991), who majored in Printmaking and Photography. Among her lecturers were the late Alma Vorster, Eunice Geustyn and Leon Vermeulen.
From 1993 her studio was based on the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo, where she and her nature conservator husband, Tom, nestled in and remained for 25 years. Their two daughters, Jade and Kai were born and grew up on the Reserve.
It is therefore unsurprising that Lisl’s work is rooted in nature, and these artworks stand as a significant personal point in her evolution as an artist.
After years of pupating in the Karoo ‘bush’ this will be Lisl’s first solo exhibition. It is most fitting that it should be held in the town of Prince Albert.
“My grateful thanks goes to Prince Albert Gallery, who have always been very supportive and encouraging of my work. I feel the time and the work is right.”