Stephen Appleby-Barr: Above the Clouds, Below the Sky

November 14 - December 6, 2019

Opening reception: Thursday, November 14, 6-8PM

Artist talk with Daniel Strong: Saturday, November 16, 2PM


Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings and etchings by Stephen Appleby-Barr. The exhibition will open on November 14th and run until December 6th with an opening reception on Thursday, November 14th from 6 to 8 pm. The gallery will host an artist talk with Stephen Appleby-Barr and Daniel Strong, Associate Director and Curator of Exhibitions at the Grinnell College Museum of Art, on Saturday, November 16th at 2 pm.


Since moving to England in late 2017, Stephen Appleby-Barr has been developing the next chapter in the narrative for his imaginative and exquisitely rendered paintings. Taking inspiration to the extreme, he fabricated an archive of intricate flora and architectural maquettes to inform the backgrounds and storylines for his paintings. The historical sites Appleby-Barr references in his paintings, including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Duomo in Florence, are visited by both familiar and new characters – Dark Messenger, Pantyhose and Solomon encounter British muses, all adorned in characteristically elaborate period attire with modern twists.


The impulse to make these objects became really pressing when I started living in Berlin. There was so much to process and I wanted reference material that didn't really exist. I started sculpting, little figures and buildings. I could light and arrange them and they would suggest compositions to me. I liked the results and had that lovely feeling that says "Oh, dear, you're going to spend all of your time doing this." Some friends invited Cody and me to stay with them in Chianti. They drove us into Florence and walked me up to Brunelleschi's Duomo and I was dumbstruck. I wanted to fly around this thing and see it from all angles. So, I had to make it. Making one thing suggests the next. My goal is to create a whole library of these sculptures to serve as reference. 

Stephen Appleby-Barr


The greatest shift in this new body of work is alluded to in the title of the show, Above the Clouds, Below the Sky. Appleby-Barr has imagined a fantastical new space for his characters’ journey. While it is a perfectly fitting destination to complement his other-worldly figures, it is also a reflection of one’s need to find escape and withdraw in uncertain and tumultuous times. Appleby-Barr’s paintings have always been partly autobiographical and speak more to the present than the past. His commentary on contemporary life is perhaps more evident than ever before with paintings of heavenly white and snowing cloudscapes set against those describing the city below, engulfed in flames.


Stephen Appleby-Barr received his diploma in illustration at Sheridan College and currently lives in London, England. His work has been exhibited and collected in Canada, the United States and Europe. Appleby-Barr has created six etchings printed with world-renowned Master Printer, Gregory Burnet of Burnet Editions, and published by the Nicholas Metivier Gallery.  This is Appleby-Barr’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery. His book, Stephen Appleby-Barr – The Pale Path, was published in 2017.