Star Power: A Strong Spirit Transcends Rules (Prince)
Two wooden portals punctuate the walls of Projects Plus gallery...
The first presents a celestial screen marked with thousands of stars twinkling upon a pale pink background blending seamlessly into a deep indigo. The second displays a clear blue sky with cumulus clouds floating lazily into the distance. A single moment marked by temporal duality.
On the wall, a diagram with toner insertion instructions accompanies a photograph of Prince masturbating his guitar.
Rising from the floor and bridging the mounted works are three anthropomorphic sculptures constructed from cardboard toner boxes forming an amalgamation presented in abstract.
This is the work of Lyndon Barrois Jr.
If you have been in St. Louis for the past few years, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Barrois. In the summer of 2016, “Of Color,” his massive installation of sculptural work placed upon an asphalt basketball court (complete with a full sized hoop), premiered at the Great Rivers Biennale at the Contemporary Art Museum. Since that time, Barrois has dazzled in several major exhibitions and has unarguably left the city richer because of his presence.
Most recently he helped develop a high-profile group show “Almost Now, Just Then…” at Projects Plus gallery alongside a cohort of some of the most prominent artists in the area. The show focuses on the concept of a constellation, analyzing both its collective nature and relativity of the grouping of stars.
“Stars aren’t so much about in being in outer space, but about time passing,” Barrois says. “They are something you always see in the past tense, due to their distance from us. So they represent looking at the past and the present.”
His installation of four prints and a tripartite sculpture (described at the beginning) examines Prince, the legendary recording artist, actor, and cultural icon. The work is rooted in Prince’s binary nature. As one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, he represents a cinematic character of himself, elucidating the expansive space between disparate identities.
Barrois was inspired to become an artist through his father, who at the time had begun working in Los Angeles as a filmmaker and animator.
“I recognized his skill as a draftsman,” says Barrois. “I had a natural ability to draw from observation, but I never took it seriously until the end of high school.”
Growing up, he was mostly focused on sports, an interest that has carried over into his artistic practice. In fact, basketball figures heavily in Barrois’ oeuvre. He included a ball in his installation at Projects Plus and used the court to shape the physical context of his work in GRB.
After attending a summer program in his junior year of high school, Barrois decided to enroll in AP art classes and then the Maryland Institute of Art where he fell in love with oil painting. After graduating, Barrios spent a couple of years living in New Zealand with his partner, Addoley Dzegede, working at various places. Upon returning to the US, they moved to Portland. Barrois mostly worked in restaurants before eventually deciding to leave Oregon to pursue his ultimate goal of becoming a practicing fine artist. Getting serious meant applying and graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, where he obtained his MFA.
“I kind of became an artist in St. Louis. I started to make work in a way that modeled the art that I was truly excited about.” Barrois continues, discussing his experience creating in a city located outside of the art-centric coasts.
“The slower pace allows you to have more time and there is less pressure to make impulsive decisions. Exhibiting here has been about experimenting. Each show has been the opportunity to do something different… to test drive different ideas, and because of that, there’s a different versatility, a wider vocabulary I’ve been interested in developing.”
Barrois has recently accepted a residency in Omaha at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and continues to explore form and aesthetics as he delves back into the realm of figurative painting. St. Louis has been uniquely fortunate to have in Lyndon as an influential player in our local artistic story, and he has contributed heavily to both the current and future discourse surrounding the potential and power of art in the Midwest.
The catalogue for “Almost Now, Just Then” is now available at Projects Plus gallery.