Bohuslav Barlow - 'Spring foal'

Artist Name:

Bohuslav Barlow

Years:

1947-

Nationality:

Czech

Painting Name:

Spring foal

Current Location:

The Big Sky Gallery, Usk, Monmouthshire

Signed lower right

Oil on Board

39cm x 29cm

Price:

£ 975.00

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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original oil painting by Bohuslav Barlow.
The painting is presented and supplied in a sympathetic and vibrant contemporary frame to suit the vibrancy of the subject colouration and is behind glass.

Reviewers have described the work of this very individual and talented artist as “the reaction of a sensitive artist to a tough environment” and “frozen moments in an intoxicating dream”. His works are certainly unique, haunting and enigmatic. They are heavily influenced by the traumas of his youth and often depict a dreamlike state, with great softness and recurring themes. He does not seek to impose an interpretation on his work and it is very much up to the viewer to search for the message, if indeed a message is needed in addition to the sheer beauty of the image.

Bohuslav was born as Bohuslav Klos in Bruntal, a small peasant township in Upper Moravia, Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of the Second World War. He was illegitimate and never knew his father. When the Iron Curtain descended, his mother fled to Furstenfledbruck, a small town near Munich in Germany. She soon moved on to England looking for work and left Bohuslav in the care of his grandparents. In 1955 when he was eight years old he was reunited with his mother in England and took the name of his step father, Barlow.

His mother met her future husband on a train journey, - he was an American Guyanan and the only black man she had ever seen; she was fascinated, and he was polite and charming. By the end of the train journey, he had proposed and she had accepted. They went on to have two further children, and they all lived in a terrace slum in Blackburn, Lancashire. Times were very hard and both parents worked long hours. There was a brooding oppressive silence in the home much of the time and conditions were certainly difficult. The family later moved to Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, but Bosuhslav continued to feel alienated and isolated. He was a displaced German-speaking child with a black stepparent living in poverty. This was neither conventional not easy in post war northern England. The only toys in the household were crayons and cheap paper and Boshuslav discovered that he could start to express himself through art and told imaginary stories to his step- siblings.

He got into art school at Manchester, where he was able to use oil paints for the first time, and in his own words, he never went back. He went on to study at the Central School of Art in London from where he graduated in Fine Art. He loved London, but not the College, and as a representational painter he resisted the fashion of abstract expressionism that gripped the art scene at the time. Ever the individual, he stayed true to his own style but again felt the isolation. After graduation he travelled around Europe, and to North Africa, Turkey and India. Returning to London he became an art teacher, but after just one year he resolved to earn his living as a full time artist, and is very proud to have done just that ever since.

He found that London did not provide the environment he craved to live as an artist and at the age of 26 moved to Todmorden West Yorkshire, in the Pennines. There he found a sense of belonging, and an artistic inspiration due to its European aspect and wild romantic scenery. He has lived there ever since, opening his own gallery, and raising his own family. His friends know him as “Slavo”.

Since starting to exhibit in 1973 Barlow has had several solo exhibitions and taken part in a number of prominent mixed exhibitions. His work has been exhibited in many municipal and private galleries throughout England and also in California, USA. It is held by private collectors, including the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and the late Hon. Angus Ogilvy. His work is also the subject of a limited edition book, ‘Visual Academy” and he is listed in “Who’s who in Art”. His work has been featured in television and is included in the National Our Paintings Collection. He has received the Yorkshire Arts Award, the Royal Talents Prize and an award from the Patchings Arts Festival 2012, Nottinghamshire.

Barlow has acknowledged that his difficult beginnings, the post war displacement and childhood alienation, feed into his art, and this is perhaps what makes it so mysterious and unique. He is a northern artist who does not paint the conventional northern landscapes, but fantastical scenes, often composed of characters and props, beautiful nudes, clowns, children, puppets and toys, all playing out a surreal personal mythology.

This original oil on board depicts the side view of a pale coloured foal with a long dark mane and tail. Behind him is a brown horse, and, further in the distance, a white horse. The foal is animated, almost playful, and seems to be, quite literally, full of the joys of spring. The meadow in which the horses stand is a wonderful patchwork of vivid colour; yellow, blue, green and purple, and in the background are hills of the same bright palette. There is a white house in the distance and a yellow sun is shining in a pale blue sky. The image is childlike, almost naive, but with an innate sophistication typical of this artist.

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