Art is in everything and anything. It perpetuates itself in a world consumed by the stability of physical existence– finding itself burgeoning to escape modernity and beckoning the abstract. In society, art is wild, it roams yet it also conceals itself behind the trees and buildings that devour cities. In reality, art is subjective, an expression of what is personal, finding different meanings within the eye of its beholder. However, for Simeon Barclay, there can be beauty in art’s wildness and realism, one that can be immersive and distinct within the impenetrable forces of sculptures and the urban spaces it is bound to.
Within the structured walls of Workplace London lies a gallery not burdened by rules. His “At Home, Everywhere and Nowhere” solo exhibit illuminates a stream of semi-transparent bins with neon texts, surrounds its audience with metal railings amongst a darkened basement, and displays a film installation meant to evoke a sense of danger that imbues the night. There is a silence in the acrylic display that lines its walls, meant to adorn its passers-by with the haunting sense of what is familiar yet strange. However, the exhibit only serves as part of the story, with its second half rather set in SOHO London in the Gathering art gallery.
Likewise, the second exhibit acts as its partner, unfolding an invisible string that ties meaning across both galleries. In this showing lies the many sculptures that float in Barclay’s mind. From a larger-than-life imitation of Elton John’s infamous Donald Duck to the statue akin to Michael Jackson’s 1995 HIStory album, Barclay refers to pop culture moments that hold value. He creates tension within his pieces, a feeling that is also relayed in a series of sculptural installations that manifest an emotive sense of grace and potential violence.
Barclay finds complexity in this interplay amongst the entwining exhibits – an archival approach to re-interpreting gallery space and its interconnectedness with one man’s journey. The galleries are inflexible yet delicate, constructing a duality between lived experience and the journey to understanding masculinity, the city, identity, and the history of images in culture. His art lies within those understandings, a symmetry for the impressions of what is natural and what is not. Both galleries will be on display at Gathering and Workplace until November 11, 2023.