Claire Barclay: Tenuity Multiple IV

Claire Barclay: Tenuity

Multiple IV
23 July - 27 August 2021
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Overview

Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present ‘Claire Barclay: Tenuity’, its fourth annual exhibition of prints by gallery artists. This new iteration of ‘Multiple’ brings together series of screen prints spanning three years of the Scottish artist’s practice.

In recent years, printmaking has become an increasingly important part of Barclay's work, and the artist was Printmaker in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland between 2018 and 2019, where she further developed her print practice. This exhibition presents previously unseen works alongside newly made monoprints in advance of Barclay’s major solo exhibition at The MAC, Belfast in 2022.

The works on display juxtapose seductive textures with sharp-edged, mechanical forms and are characterised by bold formal simplicity. Hovering between the geometric and organic, the precise and improvisatory, these prints communicate a sensitivity about the intimacy between objects and beings. Several works draw on items that are closely associated with corporeality such as fur, fabric or hair combs. Often rendered in tones of fleshy pink, the prints are read as productions of and about the body, eliciting what the artist describes as “a primal reaction” from the viewer. 

Elegant investigations of materiality, weight and stability in two-dimensions, Barclay’s prints reveal a direct correlation with her sculptures and installations. The prominent use of negative space and precarious formal arrangements reflects Barclay’s interest in “highly charged touch” and “energy” at the point of contact. The artist explains: “I aim to find the courage to present very simple shapes and forms that speak to me while I’m making the work. My sculptural mindset has very much influenced these prints; layered cut-out shapes and objects seemingly float within the boundaries of the paper whilst attention is drawn to the material quality of ink built up on their surfaces.”

In recent years, printmaking has become an increasingly important part of Barclay's work, and the artist was Printmaker in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland between 2018 and 2019, where she further developed her print practice. This exhibition presents previously unseen works alongside newly made monoprints in advance of Barclay’s major solo exhibition at The MAC, Belfast in 2022.

The works on display juxtapose seductive textures with sharp-edged, mechanical forms and are characterised by bold formal simplicity. Hovering between the geometric and organic, the precise and improvisatory, these prints communicate a sensitivity about the intimacy between objects and beings. Several works draw on items that are closely associated with corporeality such as fur, fabric or hair combs. Often rendered in tones of fleshy pink, the prints are read as productions of and about the body, eliciting what the artist describes as “a primal reaction” from the viewer. 

Elegant investigations of materiality, weight and stability in two-dimensions, Barclay’s prints reveal a direct correlation with her sculptures and installations. The prominent use of negative space and precarious formal arrangements reflects Barclay’s interest in “highly charged touch” and “energy” at the point of contact. The artist explains: “I aim to find the courage to present very simple shapes and forms that speak to me while I’m making the work. My sculptural mindset has very much influenced these prints; layered cut-out shapes and objects seemingly float within the boundaries of the paper whilst attention is drawn to the material quality of ink built up on their surfaces.”

Claire Barclay was born in 1968 in Paisley, Scotland. She now lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.

Barclay's sculptures and installations explore themes and different modes of making in relation to craft and industrial production. By using a mix of everyday and precious materials, Barclay challenges preconceptions of materials in a highly poetic and intuitive way.

Barclay is a leading figure in a generation of graduates from the Glasgow School of Art in the 1990s, a group of young artists studying in the city who rose to the fore of the contemporary art world. She has since been the subject of numerous solo presentations including Tate Britain, London (2004); Camden Arts Centre, London (2008); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2009); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2010) and Tramway, Glasgow (2017). She represented Scotland as part of the Scottish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Italy in 2003.

Barclay's works are included in prominent collections including Scottish National Galleries, Edinburgh, Scotland; British Council, UK; Tate, London; MUDAM, Luxembourg; Arts Council Collection, London, UK; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden and Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA. 

Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present ‘Claire Barclay: Tenuity’, its fourth annual exhibition of prints by gallery artists. This new iteration of ‘Multiple’ brings together series of screen prints spanning three years of the Scottish artist’s practice.

Opening hours

Monday–Friday, 11am–5pm

Installation views

“I see a direct correlation between the way I make sculpture and the way I have developed my approach to...

“I see a direct correlation between the way I make sculpture and the way I have developed my approach to printmaking. The placement of shapes on the page is like arranging objects in space, and the production of printed images is like the related elements in my installations. The use of a limited colour palette (often tones of black, red or flesh), transparency, layering, a focus on negative space and the relationship of one shape to another are shared properties of both my sculptural and print works.”

- Claire Barclay, 2020.

Drawing on materials that might clothe and adorn our bodies or domestic furnishings, this group of works conjures everyday tactile relationships with the physical world. Barclay developed these compositions from cut out shapes that recall garment pattern pieces, employing a squeegee to push ink through the open-weave fabric. New forms and illusions of depth emerge through the artist's characteristic process of improvised overlapping. Barclay explains “I enjoy the build-up of different ‘weave’ directions and the incidental nature of defects in the fabric, bent threads frayed edges etc. I suppose the work is about finding visual interest in unexpected and unspectacular things.”

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Claire Barclay in conversation with Katy Hessel

"[Barclay assembles] objects that evoke their original form and function but take on new meaning in relation to each other and the space in which they are sited. Her prints relate closely to her sculptural practice through their experimentation of how solid forms relate to one another in space"

- Tate Collection, UK.

This group of works features abstracted images of combs, often incorporating translucent layers with darker, opaque forms to produce apertures through which details are framed, dissected and obscured. A motif which recurs across her practice, the comb interests Barclay as “they are ubiquitous and remain almost unaltered since their invention by our very distant ancestors for whom they were significant objects." In 'Life time', their relationship with the body is intensified through the use of flesh-coloured blends of ink that appear bloody whilst recalling marbled plastic. These corporeal, human allusions activate Barclay's use of overprinting, whereby formal dominance triggers subtly anthropormophic effects that the artist describes as both "potentially threatening or pleasing.”

“Claire Barclay’s work is large in scale and interventionist in ambition, typically taking the form of installations made in situ and in response to the space in which they are shown. Yet these large works depend for much of their meaning on the small, highly-crafted objects that occur and recur throughout them... These small objects are the elements with which and in which a work takes shape. They are begun a long time before the installation itself and are what remains after it has been dismantled.”

- Fiona Bradley, Director of Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.

Barclay’s ‘Tenuity’ series of unique screenprints evolved instinctively, spreading across multiple sheets of paper in interrelated sequences that suggest functional relationships and changing perspectives. At the core of this group of works are halftone images of ambiguous objects drawn from the artist’s sculptures and installations, such as intricately crafted metal bowls and rings. Barclay notes that a crucial moment in her early artistic development was her realisation that using ready-made elements such as found objects, brought too many clear-cut meanings into her work. The small, machine-tooled elements depicted here exemplify the enigmatic yet familiar forms that the artist began to create or commission. Through focussing on these key motifs, this group of prints demonstrates Barclay's far-reaching investigations into the physical and symbolic nature of materials.

<p>Installation view: 'Bright Bodies', Glasgow International, Glasgow (2016).</p>
<p>Installation view: 'Bright Bodies', Glasgow International, Glasgow (2016).</p>
<p>Installation view: 'Bright Bodies', Glasgow International, Glasgow (2016).</p>
<p>Installation view: 'Bright Bodies', Glasgow International, Glasgow (2016).</p>

These richly coloured screenprints are part of a small series of interrelated works, examples of which are in the collection of Tate, UK and have been exhibited at Mission Gallery, Swansea (2018); the Hunterian, Glasgow (2018) and Touchstones Rochdale, Lancashire (2015). The prints are defined by graphic forms made from cut paper, arranged in overlapping, translucent layers to produce effects of depth and dynamism. The artist often employs flesh-coloured ink to emphasise the human qualities of these geometric forms. Barclay explains, "It is as if just the skin of the body is present, empty of flesh and bone [...] I’m playing with the drama and suggested gestures that we so keenly project onto what are in reality very rudimentary graphic shapes." 

CLAIRE BARCLAY, b. 1968, Scottish In her sculptures and installations, Claire Barclay explores different modes of making related to craft...

CLAIRE BARCLAYb. 1968, Scottish

In her sculptures and installations, Claire Barclay explores different modes of making related to craft and industrial production, arranging everyday and precious materials in an intuitive, poetic way.

Barclay's hybrid sculptures are centred on the physical and the psychological tensions that exist between contrasting materials. They are at once recognisable and foreign, acting as a surreal reflection of the world around us by toying with formal associations. One of the key influences in her working practice is an ongoing fascination with historical and anthropological artefacts. 

In 2020 Barclay was commissioned by Tideway, London to create a series of artworks for the new public realm site at Putney, London, which will be unveiled in 2022. Barclay will have a solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC), Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2022.

Notable past solo exhibitions include ‘Claire Barclay', Sculpture Court, Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland (2019); ‘Deep Spoils', Mission Gallery, Swansea, Wales (2018); ‘Yield Point', Tramway, Glasgow (2017); ‘Longing Lasting', Stephen Friedman Gallery (2015-2016); ‘Claire Barclay: Overworkings', Touchstones Rochdale, Lancashire, England (2015); ‘Claire Barclay, Another Kind of Balance', Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2013-2014); ‘Reading off the Surface', Skulpturi, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011); ‘Shadow Spans', Whitechapel Gallery, London, England (2011-2010); ‘Pale Heights', MUDAM, Luxembourg (2009); ‘Claire Barclay', Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2009); ‘Open Wide', Camden Arts Centre, London, England (2008); ‘Fault on the Right Side', Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2007) and ‘Half-Light', Tate Britain, London, England (2004).

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