Liam Barr (b.1966), Originally from Scotland, emigrated with his family to N.Z. in 1974. He grew up in Banks Peninsula before travelling overseas. He settled in Perth W.A. where he trained and worked as graphic designer. He ran his practice out of Fremantle before the settling effects of fatherhood in 2000 turned … Read More
Liam Barr (b.1966), Originally from Scotland, emigrated with his family to N.Z. in 1974. He grew up in Banks Peninsula before travelling overseas. He settled in Perth W.A. where he trained and worked as graphic designer. He ran his practice out of Fremantle before the settling effects of fatherhood in 2000 turned his attention toward family and realising his aspiration to develop his art practice professionally. Barr launched into creating his first show 'Adrift - Journey's to the other me' - Fremantle Art Centre, 2003, a strong and well received show steeped in the magic realism style. Liam and family returned to New Zealand in 2004 in order to reconnect with whanau and further develop his practice.
After 18 years overseas and a desire to reconnect, Barr created a series of works to be titled 'Hei Tiki - Hi Mate' (2007) exploring the concepts of taonga, spirit, lore and legend. Whilst Barr considers the hei tiki as a proud and accepted avatar of tangata whenua, he also acknowledges its popularity as an icon for the wider community of New Zealanders. Common elements endure within the characters, however each appears to bear its own personality traits. Barr's interpretations of man/tiki, merge congruously with traditional imagery offering a subtle surrealist quality.
Barr's third solo show 'Grand-Land' (2008) weave narratives of grandeur and majesty. Whilst some tiki reference remains, there is a migration toward a more representational character set. Pop culture reference to barr's childhood is evident and European icons merge with traditional culture. Irony, satire and playfulness are magnified and perhaps draw a long bow to the duality of cultures, this in turn conveys a continuing theme in Barr's work, where symbolism reflects an aura of pathos, displacement and insight into contemporary New Zealand.
Barr's most recent and fourth solo show 'Pakeha' (2011) continues its search to define the New Zealand experience expressed in a series of twelve portrait paintings depicting stories of whalers, sailors and early pioneering visitors to this land. Images draw reference from the fictitious to the subjectively factual, weaving stories punctuated with symbolism and iconography laying bare a colonial psyche rapidly assembling through historical events. Barr's beautiful paintings imbue a romantic, historical essence contextualized in a contemporary fashion. Deftly painted embellishments dramatise the narrative and subtly draw us in to the atmosphere of the era, complete with moody landscapes and deep dark timber frames of 19th century oil paintings.
Liam currently lives in Wellington with his wife and daughter and paints full time. Aside from the four solo exhibitions he also contributes to a numerous group shows. He has exhibited in public exhibitions - 'Mind Games - An Exhibition of Surrealism in Aotearoa' - Hastings City Art Gallery and 'Tears For Tane's Children' - Whangarei Art Museum. Liam also produces limited edition archival Ultrachrome prints (Giclée) and markets them throughout New Zealand and abroad. Read Less