At first glance, viewers of the work of Scottish artist Paul Barnes see a fairy-tale land populated by cuddly furry creatures and lush trees. But look closer and one begins to see a dreamy, almost unsettling quality to his work. And that’s no surprise since Barnes uses his art as a vehicle to explore the mind in its dream state. His characters are often seen in desolate landscape settings (a nod to early Surrealism), rendered with heavy brushstrokes that evoke Modernist painting. The subdued color palette and wispy lines induce a sort of dreamy ambiance as we scan the deep landscapes within the works.
At a young age Paul Barnes was deeply inspired by Scotland’s ancient tradition, rich in folklore and legends, and is quoted as saying, “I guess my closeness to nature and the slight isolation of growing up in the rural north of Scotland forms the basis of my work, no matter how much I try to escape it.
“It’s this inspiration, from a very early age, that fuels a big part of my imagination today. Resurrecting the creatures from my childhood memories, conscious of the innocence and naivety in the forms, I enjoy playing with them like I did as a child. I try hard to make my paintings look old, to recapture my visions with a feeling of timelessness and space, kind of like a dream or distant memory that has become all blurry and faded.”
Drift away, and enjoy the dreamy art of Paul Barnes.