Alvaro Barrington You don't do it for the man, men never notice. You just do it for yourself, you're the... Alvaro Barrington You don't do it for the man, men never notice. You just do it for yourself, you're the...

Alvaro Barrington You don't do it for the man, men never notice.
You just do it for yourself, you're the fucking coldest

2 March—17 April 2021
Paris Marais



Alvaro Barrington's new paintings reflect the cross-pollination of many influences, among which fashion, music and art history play a primary role. The exhibition's title You don't do it for the man, men never notice. You just do it for yourself, you’re the fucking coldest is taken from a song by Canadian rapper Drake, demonstrating the centrality of popular music as a constant source of inspiration in his practice.



Alvaro Barrington

In addition to paintings incorporating yarn, for which he is best known, the artist introduces a new series of multi-layered works on textile framed with concrete. Combining references to street culture, traditional craft techniques and the history of modernism, his art conveys the breadth of his varied life experience and influences.

Born in Venezuela to Grenadian and Haitian migrant workers, Barrington was raised between the Caribbean and Brooklyn, New York, before moving to London where he is currently living.


Installation Views

I always think of a show as an album. To make a great album you have to have a pop song – a song that you know people are going to love, then a second follow up pop song. And then you have to have songs that are weirder, more experimental and show a lot more range. 

— Alvaro Barrington, 2021


Alvaro Barrington
Em reclining sofa bed w/ Burberry pillow, 2021
Carpet, concrete, wood and mixed media on burlap paper
201 x 201 x 8 cm  (79.13 x 79.13 x 3.15 in) 

The close relationship between visual art and music has been a foundational 
element of abstraction since the early 20th century, tracing back to Wassily 
Kandinsky's Compositions and Josef Albers' interest in rhythm and harmony
that informed his Homage to the Square series.

With these predecessors in mind, Barrington revisits the history of modernism in a new series of square canvases made with textiles, on which he draws silhouettes against an abstract background.

Alvaro Barrington Compass Pose [Deanna], 2021
Erykah Badu Mama's Gun, 2000
Josef Albers Homage to the Square: Apparition, 1959
Alvaro Barrington The Bather Rio/Ro/St, 2021



In The Bather Ri/Ro/St, Barrington draws upon traditional representations of the bather, a subject that has been used throughout art history and has allowed artists to develop stylistic innovations whilst also expressing new attitudes towards the human form. In his composition, the artist conflates stylistic references to Abstract Expressionism – the ‘St’ and ‘Ro’ in the title are abbreviations of Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko – with an image of R&B singer Rihanna (‘Ri’) taking a bath in the video promoting her 2016 Anti album.



Alvaro Barrington M § M (Matisse § Meg), 2021
Alvaro Barrington's sketchbook made on the occasion of this exhibition


The colours in M § M (Matisse § Meg), along with its silhouette of a dancing woman, recall the visual simplicity of Henri Matisse's Cut-Outs but also of the first iPod ads where animated silhouettes were dancing alone on a brightly coloured background. Using blocks of pure colour, without any detail other than the outlines of each subject, Barrington creates artworks that are situated at the crossroads of painterly tradition and digital culture.

In the same way that Matisse arranged his different elements separately in notebooks, Barrington produces numerous drawn before finding the right combinations.

Alvaro Barrington Back that azz up (Black dress), 2021
Alvaro Barrington M.J. late night beach, 2021
Alvaro Barrington K. B. just came home, 2021


Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1990s, hip-hop
and rap music 
played an important role in
shaping Barrington's self-affirmative practice.

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1990s, hip-hop and rap music played an important role in shaping Barrington's self-affirmative practice....

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1990s, hip-hop and rap music played an important role in shaping Barrington's self-affirmative practice.

I saw how rappers like Tupac and Ghostface Killah and Lil' Kim gave voice to folks who were dismissed by society—black men who just came out of jail, women who weren't allowed to own their sexuality. I saw how rap changed larger cultural conversations.

— Alvaro Barrington

Alvaro Barrington When I was just trying to feed my daughter / Coogi, 2021

The yarn used in the portrait dedicated to the Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie, takes a form which is inspired by the texture of the Coogi sweater worn by the singer in a photograph in front of the Twin Towers. Associated with rap culture, the brand became popular amongst the teenage population of Brooklyn where the artist grew up. In the right hand corner of the canvas, Barrington has inscribed in cement the lyrics of 'Juicy' (1994), one of Biggie’s most famous songs.


'Juicy', Notorious B.I.G. (1994) 

Alvaro Barrington M challenge (orange), 2021
Alvaro Barrington Sky trees late eve, 2021

Barrington has long been interested in frame making and has often created frames for his own works or for his friends, allowing the painting to become a fuller version of itself.

The works in this exhibition introduce custom-made cement frames, which convey a brutalist aspect and impart a sense of gravity to the paintings, connecting them with the idea of an urban landscape.

Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983, Caracas, Venezuela) lives and works in London. He studied at Hunter College, New York, and the...

Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983, Caracas, Venezuela) lives and works in London. He studied at Hunter College, New York, and the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where he started lecturing in 2019.

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 A Taste of Chocolate at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2018) and his ongoing Tt x AB collaboration with the painter Teresa Farrell. In 2019, Alvaro Barrington co-curated the exhibition Artists I Steal From with Julia Peyton-Jones and in 2020, he participated in the group show A Focus on Painting also curated by Peyton-Jones, both at Thaddaeus Ropac, London.


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