Hedwig Barry
Hiding the Blues II, Rory’s Shark
oil, enamel, glitter and glue on canvas

R21 000.00 (framed)

Hiding the Blues II, Rory’s Shark brings together Hedwig Barry’s strong colour sensibility and her interest in “compulsive surfacing”, the building up of painted surfaces to such an extent that the relationship between figure and ground becomes obscured. In art history, the relationship between figure and ground, or the subject and the background, is the basis of the logic of Western painting, in which the background is always subordinate to, and in service of, the subject, or the “main” content of the painting. This is the case even when this content is abstracted or purely formal. This same history has been dominated by male artists, critics, and patrons, and, moreover, by a particularly aggressive way of relating to painterly materials. Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings are perhaps the exemplar of macho Western painting, in which the “ground”, or the canvas, is attacked with paint. In contrast, in Hiding the Blues II, Rory’s Shark, forms are coaxed out of the visual substrate. The canvas is a more like a womb than a platform, and through an intuitive yet rigorous process of applying layers of material a complex and fecund system of relating emerges.



Hedwig Barry (b.1969, Bloemfontein) is an artist working at the intersection of the visual arts, arts education and research. Her drawings, paintings and sculptures are grounded in a rich conceptual terrain that articulates a feminist politics of love and desire in artistic practice, and in society at large. Probing the metaphor of “grounding”, and of “groundlessness,” Barry’s work explores the grounds we walk on and live in. She asks how we teach and learn, how and whom we include, and what we make along the way. A long career as an educator, facilitator, producer and collaborator, across artistic disciplines, has led her to a dedicated studio practice embedded in the processes of drawing, painting, sculpting and writing.

In 2020 Barry graduated cum laude from the MA Fine Arts programme at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg, with a project titled “Pedagogies, Desires and Practices, the perplexing spaces of teaching and learning”. Also in 2020, through a collaboration between Wits and BMW, she was commissioned by BMW to create two large-scale outdoor interventions for the BMW campus in Midrand, South Africa. Both commissions - the “Crumple” and “Love Letter for Lost Travellers” were completed in early 2021. Her most recent large-scale public outdoor sculpture, “Crumple (Jeanette Schoon)” is installed on the Keyes Art Mile. These and other current works are about the interface of the personal and the public, the emotional and the intellectual, and the bodies, grounds, materials, desires and gestures which give meaning to these relationships.