In the fall of 2023, Stephen Appleby-Barr will have two major exhibitions, first in the United States and then in the United Kingdom. Correspondence, a survey exhibition, will take place at Grinnell College Museum of Art in Iowa in September and Échelle will open at Canada House in London in October. Poussière at Nicholas Metivier Gallery is a prelude to these milestones and includes preparatory sketches for a remarkable architectural sculpture that will make its debut at Canada House.
The paintings and drawings in this exhibition demonstrate Appleby-Barr’s versatility across a wide range of materials. The title of the exhibition, Poussière, translates to dust, referencing the importance of working with different mediums and the inspirations that come from each discipline. While sculpture is not physically represented in the exhibition, many of his small figurative sculptures fabricated in his London studio, appear in the paintings. They play an important role in steering the layered narratives.
There’s some link between plaster, paint, and ink that calls to me. All these different kinds of dirt suspended in various fluids are connecting in my mind. Plaster, ink, paint — these are the solids that become fluid and later become solid again. They change as you work with them, and you are changed by working with them.... It’s difficult to avoid becoming overly poetic about it all. I find myself in “from dust to dust” territory all too easily. It’s a relief that I’m able to leave most of it on the canvas.
– Stephen Appleby-Barr
At the centre of the exhibition is Appleby-Barr’s new etching, Self Portrait Ein Versuch, 2022. Appleby-Barr worked with Master Printer Gregory Burnet at Burnet Editions in New York to produce this wonderfully accomplished work. With inspiration taken from his recent portraits of his friends surrounded by still lifes loaded with symbolism, Appleby-Barr situated himself among an array of objects of importance from his studio. The resulting print is masterful technically and captures the distinct and honest emotions of an artist creating a work of their own image.
A self-portrait is a difficult subject for all kinds of reasons. The biggest reason is that it is a kind of confrontation with oneself. It's terribly difficult to detach oneself from the subject and see clearly. There is quite a storm in one's mind and it's a difficult ride.
– Stephen Appleby-Barr