Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM
“Every dream has a name. And names tell a story. This song is your dream.”
— Talking Heads
“Duende” is the perfect name for the current exhibition of artwork by Tracy Barbosa.
The term refers to a moment of unrepeatable excitement that originated in dance and music, but has come to also define a rush of the soul that manifests itself even in static art.
The Spanish poet Francisco Garcia Lorca once described duende as “a sort of corkscrew that can get into the sensibility of the audience.” It is the dance between the muse and the goblin and Barbosa is the chaperone.
Curated by Jessica Bregoli at Groundwork, “Duende” is an intriguing showcase for Barbosa, who has created complex works that are densely layered, both literally (in her deft application of material) and conceptually (seemingly bouncing from one alternate reality to another.)
She glides seamlessly between glasswork, photography printmaking, painting, gold leafing and sculpture. It is often difficult to ascertain where one ends and the next begins, and that speaks to her mastery of her chosen media.
Thematically, she straddles a place between the mystical and the earthbound, the visceral and the cerebral, the private and the public, the familiar and the queer, and the natural and the manmade.
In the large scale acrylic painting (with brass and copper leaf, patina and toner) “Spring Snow,” Barbosa presents a marvelous fantasy landscape that draws from reality but becomes something entirely new and refreshing.
In the background, Northern California’s Bay Bridge spans a bay somehow connecting Texas to the New York City borough of Queens. Nearer to the viewer is a plump antlered deer in the wood, Canadian geese and starlings flit about, and the sky is both ominous and lovely.
But the most remarkable element is the dozen or so oversized doily-like snowflakes that become both a decorative element and a sign that winter has succumbed. It is clearly “unreal” but it resonates as though it were a bolder and better plane of existence.
“Derrick” is an homage to her cousin of the same name who died of an overdose of opiates in December 2017. There is something reverential in it, almost holy.
Bulbous, cartoon-like gold leaf clouds recall the Momoyama (Peach Hill) Period of the late 16th century in Japan, expressing an opulence that dangerously borders on decadence.
Barbosa zealfully embraces symbolism. A large bird carries a photographic device as if trying to record and understand the unfathomable. In the distance, gulls flock but they are in black silhouette and look like crows. Their number constitutes a murder, perhaps an unconscious reference to the opiate dealers. And in the distance, on a dead-still sea, is a derrick.
“16 Octaves Below Middle C” (which according to Barbosa is “the hum of the Earth”) is a ceramic print on glass, illuminated from behind, which gives it the feel of a church’s stained glass windows. But the iconography is not big-C Catholic. It is little-c catholic … it is universal. Heaven is a multi-hued sky, angels are the ever-present birds, the altar is a barren tree, and the shrine is an off-in-the-distance Chrysler Building.
Another work of note is “Ink and Wine” which features entangled octopuses as a metaphor for family, silver grails with all religious understanding locked in place, and a spattering of red. It is ink, it is wine, it is the blood of Christ and family bond.
Barboza’s work exists in a dreamstate that is both lucid and temporal. She knows the muse and the goblin. She lives with both.
“Duende: An Exhibition by Tracy Barbosa” is on display at Groundwork, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford through June 9. An opening reception will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Don Wilkinson is a painter and art critic who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at Don.Wilkinson@gmail.com. His columns run each week in Coastin’.
Original article here.