Alvaro Barrington

Alvaro Barrington

Venezuelan
1983
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Overview

'When you look at my paintings, you’re encountering parts of my identity. I grew up in a culture where it was really about erasing hierarchies, where we’re all participating in cultural production.'

Born in Venezuela to Grenadian and Haitian migrant workers, Alvaro Barrington was raised between the Caribbean and Brooklyn, New York, by a network of relatives. An unwavering commitment to community informs his wide-ranging practice. While Barrington considers himself primarily a painter, his artistic collaborations encompass exhibitions, performances, concerts, fashion, philanthropy and contributions to the Notting Hill Carnival in London. His approach to painting is similarly inclusive – embracing non-traditional materials and techniques such as burlap, concrete, cardboard and sewing – and infused with references to his personal and cultural history. 

Influence and exchange are crucial to Barrington, who draws upon a host of artistic and cultural references in his work. His personal touchstones include rapper Tupac Shakur and 90s hip-hop culture, jazz and the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey, modernist icons such as Willem de Kooning, Paul Klee, Agnes Martin and Louise Bourgeois, and his art-world peers. His resolutely interdisciplinary approach follows in the footsteps of Robert Rauschenberg’s groundbreaking Combines, which he references by incorporating real objects into the picture plane, including carpets, steel drums, brooms and fans. He is an artist who is continually expanding his constellation of references, inspirations and communities, while always acknowledging the formative role of art history in his practice.

Born in Venezuela to Grenadian and Haitian migrant workers, Alvaro Barrington was raised between the Caribbean and Brooklyn, New York, by a network of relatives. An unwavering commitment to community informs his wide-ranging practice. While Barrington considers himself primarily a painter, his artistic collaborations encompass exhibitions, performances, concerts, fashion, philanthropy and contributions to the Notting Hill Carnival in London. His approach to painting is similarly inclusive – embracing non-traditional materials and techniques such as burlap, concrete, cardboard and sewing – and infused with references to his personal and cultural history. 

Influence and exchange are crucial to Barrington, who draws upon a host of artistic and cultural references in his work. His personal touchstones include rapper Tupac Shakur and 90s hip-hop culture, jazz and the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey, modernist icons such as Willem de Kooning, Paul Klee, Agnes Martin and Louise Bourgeois, and his art-world peers. His resolutely interdisciplinary approach follows in the footsteps of Robert Rauschenberg’s groundbreaking Combines, which he references by incorporating real objects into the picture plane, including carpets, steel drums, brooms and fans. He is an artist who is continually expanding his constellation of references, inspirations and communities, while always acknowledging the formative role of art history in his practice.

For Barrington, painting is a way to experience the world we inhabit and explore the medium’s role within a long tradition of storytelling. His past exhibitions have examined themes of birthing and migration, aspirations in the Black community, mass incarceration and notions of time, as well as self-love and digital identities in isolated conditions. It is essential to him that people are able to encounter art in accessible spaces. One such space is that of Carnival, which he credits as the first fully-formed artistic experience of his life. He began collaborating with Notting Hill Carnival in 2019, when his first One Famalay concert brought Soca artists such as Machel Montano, Skinny Fabulous and others to London. In 2022 he produced Queen of the Caribbean, the official Notting Hill Carnival concert.

Barrington studied at Hunter College in New York and the Slade School of Fine Art in London, later teaching at both of his alma maters, as well as at the Cooper Union in New York. His first solo exhibition, which opened the same year he graduated, was curated by Klaus Biesenbach at MoMA PS1, Queens, in 2017. His work has since been shown in numerous solo and group shows, including Alvaro Barrington: SPIDER THE PIG, PIG THE SPIDER, South London Gallery, London (2021); Mixing It Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London (2021); A Taste of Chocolate, Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2018), and through his ongoing Tt x AB collaboration with the painter Teresa Farrell. Barrington co-curated the exhibition Artists I Steal From with Julia Peyton-Jones at Thaddaeus Ropac, London in 2019, followed by his solo gallery exhibitions in Salzburg (2022) and Paris Marais (2021).

Videos

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Alvaro Barrington La Vie en Rose
La Vie en Rose
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Alvaro Barrington You don't do it for the man, men never notice. You just do it for yourself, you're the...
You don't do it for the man, men never notice.
You just do it for yourself, you're the fucking coldest
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Alvaro Barrington reflects on Robert Rauschenberg
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A Focus on Painting Alvaro Barrington
Alvaro Barrington
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Group Exhibition Artists I Steal From
Artists I Steal From
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A Focus on Painting with Katy Hessel
with Katy Hessel
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Frieze Talk | Painting Today Alvaro Barrington, Mandy El-Sayegh, Rachel Jones and Dona Nelson, chaired by Julia Peyton-Jones
Alvaro Barrington, Mandy El-Sayegh, Rachel Jones and Dona Nelson, chaired by Julia Peyton-Jones
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Artist's Eye Alvaro Barrington
Alvaro Barrington

Kunstwerke / Werke

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