Paul Barlow is a painter who graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2021 and was recently selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the South London Gallery. Barlow’s unique method of using water as a solvent to strip away residues of colour using repetitive motions, abstracts universal patterns observed in the physical world.
Barlow’s past exhibitions include “Bloomberg New Contemporaries” at South London Gallery (2021, London, UK); “Show Off (Open Rehearsal)” at Cook Latham Gallery (2020, London, UK); “Standstill” at Kubik Gallery (2019, Porto, Portugal); “Everything Flows” at Millennium Gallery (2017, Sheffield, UK); as well as his solo exhibition “Surface Dressing” at Slugtown (2017, Newcastle, UK).
Barlow currently lives and works in London, UK.
Paul Barlow’s paintings hold the in-between spaces of recognition and unconsciousness, awareness and vagueness, clarity and mystery often abstracting these states into universal patterns expressed in the physical world, resembling interference of light waves, fractals, and halos. Unlike traditional oil painters who work with the logic of addition by laying on viscous pigments atop each other, Barlow subtracts and removes. Using water as a solvent, he strips away residues of colour using a sequence of repetitive motions. Like currents forming sand ripples, seawater eroding coastlines, and the flow of a river shaping a meander; seeping and spreading, water configures the patterns and silhouettes on Barlow’s canvas. The pigments react, sediment and congeal into gradients of hues, forming micro-geological strata of vegetative tendrils, oceanic trances, and psychedelic hallucinations. Like the ceramicist’s application of glazes and oxides whose outcome is unknown until it comes out of the kiln, or the photographer who develops the image in the darkroom, Barlow’s pictures are reliant on the intelligence of liquids, the beauty of contingency, and the discipline of trial and error.