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The Art of Josh Barkey Paperback – September 22, 2014
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About the Author
Josh Barkey was raised in the Amazon, then paid for an English degree by sticking thousands of baby trees into Canadian dirt. Now he lives in a shed in North Carolina, making stuff. You can learn more about his visual art, screenplays, novels, and cetera at www.joshbarkey.com
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In the beginning of his book, Barkey says his art is a way to explore questions without worrying too much about answers. It does that. It also does more; the paintings create physical and psychological spaces that generously allow viewers to join the questioning. They create spaces for contemplation. The cultural references flow back and forth in time and place. There are references to art history, social media, landscapes, and situations that reflect the varied places Barkey has lived.
The figures are frozen in uncomfortable situations. They recognize human failing, but not with resignation. Even though there are not tidy solutions, there is no sense of getting comfortable with any status quo.
In the introduction to Painting People, Charlotte Mullins says, "The figure within painting offers the artist a chance to communicate directly to our senses." Barkey's paintings do this.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in visual journaling. It has examples of various ways of approaching subject matter that would be encouraging to anyone interested in responding to life in ways where words may fail.
For future readers (or lookers), I would like to point out that this collection cannot be absorbed in one sitting. As most of the art is used to construct an idea, each element is important in order to understand the "whole picture". Sometimes, the most powerful elements in this collection are the most subtle.