CVC is pleased to present Travelers in Time, a two artist exhibition of photographs and sculpture that examines popular culture through four centuries of iconic Old Master paintings against a backdrop of the timeless forms of nature.

Lluis Barba’s large scale photographs are based on masterworks by Bosch, Brueghel, Raphael, Goya, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Barba fuses iconic oil paintings with imagery from popular culture – celebrities, anonymous visitors and ubiquitous symbols of our consumer landscape such as McDonald’s signs and corporate logos. Modern masterworks by Magritte, DeKooning, Miro and Picasso that have become icons of our time’s creative culture also pop up unexpectedly.

During the times the Old Masters lived direct criticism of the King or his policies could easily mean one’s death so artists imbedded social commentary in their paintings. Barba extends this commentary to current day issues using the same visual medium of his antecedents. His present day inhabitants become a living part of daily life from the distant past challenging the notions of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ time and space. He invites us to reconsider the timeless nature of art, and to reflect on the timeless nature of our emotions that are as much a part of our day to day world, now as they were centuries ago.

The steel sculptures of Herbert Mehler are at once organic and geometric. With their roots in nature they extend the plant world of fruits and seeds to contemporary materials with velvet soft patinas. The objects Mehler creates transform the weight of metal into curved light shapes that are grounded yet seem capable of becoming airborne with the slightest breeze.

Comments by Lluis Barba:

My message has always been the same; what has changed with the times are the tools. The introduction of new technologies has shaped recent art history in general and my art work in particular in a positive manner.
In the series Travellers in Time, my work reflects a critical and social view that contrasts with the visual language of expression as employed by the creators of certain masterpieces. My intention is to make a subjective revision of art of the past and create an interaction between historical characters and contemporary personalities.
The inclusion of contemporary personalities in to the artworks of the past follows the pattern the brain has to receive and process external stimuli. An image received through the retina will reach the perceiver fragmented via the hypothalamus, where a virtual reasoned image is formed through a relationship with the evolving parameters of space.
I take out of context the elements of reality and replace them with another reality. I use irony and subliminal messages to create a parody of our contemporary society. Aesthetically, I use black and white to represent the past and colour to represent the present. My work is printed on photography paper and mounted via Diasec (photographic image wedged between two pieces of Plexiglas, held together by silicone UV adhesive). My approach to installations is to incorporate fiber optics, video projections, sculpture and photography.
I address the conflicts most embedded in our contemporary society such as: alienation, isolation, globalization, cross-cultural connections, mass consumption and the loss of personal identity through the corset of fashion and trend.
I acknowledge art history in a fragmented and suggestive manner, by creating an interrelationship among individuals from various cultural worlds, such as artists, curators, cinema directors, clergy, politicians, aboriginal peoples, fringe groups, immigrants and not lastly by those who have attained star status in their respective fields, personalities like Kate Moss, Madonna, Lady Gaga…
I am interested in the absurdity of paradox, for example incorporating stereotypical figures such as military personnel outfitted in floral print uniforms, carrying ice cream. My goal is to demystify a particular image associated with aggression, as well as to use fictional heroes that are the myths omnipresent in our society. The greater the entertainment factor of this imagery, the less likely we are inclined to be manipulated by these stereotypes.
The role of the tourist as a subject is very important within my work, as it is a recurrent theme. Tourists are travellers that move in space –whether in real or virtual time. Rather than photographing museum artworks from the exterior, the tourists within my work do it from the inside thus becoming part of the work itself.
Formally I would like to offer a new way of interpreting the art of photography; that is to separate in some way documentary photography, from photography with a formal and conceptual basis.
I introduce ironic messages and in so doing serve to demystify them, as I attempt to reach my audience, concerned with the current issues, in a most pleasant way. Much like Charlie Chaplin as portrayed in movies
such as “Modern Times” or “The Great Dictator”, I want to use irony and humour as valid tools for interpreting great tragedies which the perceiver may assimilate into effective forms.