Lyell Bary

Lyell Bary

A Primer

6 - 29 April 2000


Brisbane artist Lyell Bary paints on plywood, often allowing its pronounced grain provoke his compositions, generating biomorphic graphics with eccentric voids. Bary illuminates his panels with hand-drawn text, quoting from books he's reading, from films and television, and from overheard remarks that strike a chord. Bary relates his lettering style, which recalls psychedelic poster art, to his school days in the 1970s. His works' super-sweet, decorative quality is sometimes pointedly at odds with their often melancholic, even elegiac subject matter. For instance The Long Goodbye refers to Robert Mapplethorpe, who died from AIDS. The text in I Will Love—'I will love you next Tuesday at 8pm'—is styled on a gay toilet-wall graffito David Hockney discovered.

The largest work in the show is the abstract, Guardians of The Secret, titled after the Jackson Pollock painting of the same name. The artist describes its creation: "There are times when I act so effete at the hardware store, sifting through sheets of ply looking for the perfect grain. Other times the forklift driver randomly selects the ply, powers it out to the back of the van and I accept the latest dispatch. That's how Guardians was conceived. I had to deal with fifteen random pieces of plywood. In painting the grain, certain forms began to appear, replicate and flow from panel to panel. It became necessary to resolve the rampant image by reworking some panels. Like Pollock, I like to imagine there is another form of visual communication at play outside our senses or perception. Also, as with the Pollock painting, what seems at first to be a simple and random work is actually a complex marriage of design, order and chaos."