Barry McGee has been building bridges for his entire career. Graffiti to gallery, bohemian culture to museum culture, folk art to vandalism, surfing to street life and back again and around and around. He continues, almost 5 decades into his career, to create works and presentations that toe the line between collaboration and singular identity, shows that mix mediums, styles, and visual cues. He's a master at controlled-chaos.
The San Francisco legend continues his enduring relationship with the V1 Gallery family in Copenhagen while presenting Tar Pit at their Eighteen Gallery space from June 11—July 8, 2021. As ever, the intricacies and attention to detail are second to none. Barry was a transformative figure in turning a gallery space into a personal stream-of-consciousness-installation style; as if he was on the street looking at every angle and vantage point for graffiti. He treats Eighteen the same way. And that is why he still possesses such an original vernacular for art: it's clean and messy, pure and chaotic.
Barry knows how to move your eye. He puts paintings into paintings, sculptures on sculptures, literally "twisting" your eyes around an environment with collaged mastery. It's amazing that years into his groundbreaking installations in the early 1990s, some of the most profound experimental shows to bring graffiti to a contemporary art audience, Barry McGee can still move you to find the possibilities in his personal subculture obsessions. We talk about legends for a reason; they change the game. McGee is still at the apex of re-imagining the way we see the world around us, and even in a Tar Pit, he is moving forward. —Evan Pricco