BERKELEY, CA.- The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
presents Barry McGee, the first ever midcareer survey of the San Franciscobased artist. This exceptionally comprehensive exhibition explores his work from the late 1980s to the present, including rarely seen early etchings, re-creations of large-scale installations, vibrant abstract paintings, animatronics, photographs, and painted surfboards. Barry McGee provides a much-anticipated opportunity to experience and assess the broad scope of the artists multifaceted career and practice in a single exhibition.
Barry has influenced a generation of international artists, with the Bay Area as the welcoming and appreciative center for his dynamic, engaged, and progressive approach to art-making, says BAM/PFA Director and Barry McGee co-curator Lawrence Rinder. So it is with a sense of privilege and special responsibility that we present this first midcareer survey of his work.
McGee, who trained professionally in painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, began sharing his work in the 1980s, not in a museum or gallery setting but on the streets of San Francisco, where he developed his skills as a graffiti artist, often using the tag name Twist. Using a visual vocabulary that borrows elements from comics, hobo art, sign painting, and other sources, McGees work addresses a range of issues, from individual survival and social malaise to alternative forms of community. His extraordinary skill as a draughtsman is balanced by a passion for pushing the boundaries of art: his work can be shockingly informal in the gallery and surprisingly elegant on the street.
McGee commands a staggering array of media to bring his art into being, including empty liquor bottles, spray-paint cans, tagged signs, televisions, wrenches, scrap wood, and metal. His installations dont so much occupy space as they engulf it. Dizzying color patterns pour into corners and seep into adjacent rooms; walls packed with clusters of framed illustrations and images bubble out as if to touch viewers; and the interiors of overturned vans become viewing spaces of their own.
McGee will be in residence for the installation of the exhibition from mid-June through late August. Barry McGee is organized by Rinder, with Curatorial Assistant Dena Beard, and is accompanied by a major catalog featuring texts by Alex Baker, Natasha Boas, and Germano Celant as well as nearly three hundred images, many of which have never before been published. The exhibition will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in April 2013.