Barry Reigate was born in 1971, London. He studied at Camberwell College of Arts (1990-93) and then Goldsmiths (1995-97). Has had solo shows in London at Nang Gallery (2009), Paradise Row (2008) and Trolley Gallery (2006). Group shows include ‘Rude Britannia: British Comic Art’ Tate Gallery 2010, ‘Newspeak: British Art Now’ Saatchi Gallery 2010.
Reigate uses debased sexual cartoon ephemera to provide a critical allegory for art historical attitudes as well as current cultural zeitgeist.
'The cartoons are mainly about death; the death of our exhausted visual culture. Cartoons are used because they've already been 'used' ied. 'used to death'. It plays with notions of freedom, in regards to an ideal of creativity. My work at the moment is dealing with structures and systems in regards to play and progress. '
Reigate merges the gloss of graphic design with integrity of expressionism, creating packed and jumbled compositions often with a lecherous/fetishist theme. His use of controversial subjects highlight the hypocrisy that surrounds issues such as sexuality, art, race and class. Darkly humorous parodies of today’s attitudes.
Reigate confronts and seduces the viewer with his own ethical hang-ups. “I like the simultaneous reference to cartoons and modern art over the last century,” says Reigate. “While modernism grew, cartoons consumed the very essence of transcendental popularity.”
“The dumbness is from too much knowledge,” Reigate perceives, “an apathy from too much info. Because of information and imagery, we all have loads of input about stuff we don’t ever experience, like zombiefied conduits of information. All this info goes into the paintings. Layer after layer of collage, drawing, crayon, airbrush etc… Just stuff on stuff, then sealed and more stuff put on top of other stuff. Making work is a kind of expenditure for this ‘stuff’. When I make a painting it may refer to moments in art’s history, but I did not do that consciously. It’s the energy of apathy kicking in. I’ve seen Guston’s books, read about Basquiat in journals, Googled Condo, seen Jeff Koons on TV, paid to see Paul McCarthy online, looked at Magritte’s ‘vache’ period in libraries etc; somehow this info is going to come out, through me. My body cannot store it, there’s not enough ram, so it gets performed, transferred onto a piece of material through brush, paint, collage and whatever’s to hand.”
“I got invited to do a special commission for the Saatchi Gallery which resulted in Real Special Very Painting and Voracious Impotent Penis (hence the titles, takes on R.S.V.P & V.I.P),” Reigate explains. “I’m interested in cartoon imagery because I was taught how to draw by my father. When visiting him at Wandsworth Prison, my father would try to entertain me through drawing popular imagery such as King Kong, or Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. That would be his way of communicating to me; being a kind of 70s macho man, he found it difficult to express his feelings other than through anger or violence. So there is this dysfunction already in my circuit, in relation to my artistic introduction, drawing associated with punishment and freedom. Cartoon’s main audience is children. Art, a luxury commodity, could be seen as some kind of adult toy. Something to depart from the ‘real’ world, into one of escape and play where meaning and reason slips into a different social context. In the real world you’re not allowed to be naughty, but in a cartoon world you can. You can throw knives, fall from buildings, and attempt murder.”